Growing up in this society I was subconsciously taught the way I should look was already established for me. I was a victim of envying the women in magazines and on television because, for some reason, that transferred over to me as acceptable and beautiful. I had a Barbie doll like most little girls and I can tell you, I didn't look like her at all. Barbie had everything! The dream house, the convertible and not to mention Ken. Everyone wants to wear nice clothes, be wanted by women and men, and look good naked... but what does it mean to "look good"?
Well, my idea of looking good could mean something completely different than what yours does. I thought to myself where does this stem from? How come some people were brought up to believe being extremely slim is admirable, or having a lot of muscle appearance is beautiful. What is a women supposed to look like? Should I be curvy like an hour glass? Or have long legs like a gazelle?
The amount of stress and obsession women deal over body image today has gotten way out of control. It's not fair for women have these unachievable expectations of how we should look in order to take my shirt off at the gym, or wear a two piece bathing suit. I often hear or think "I can't wear shorts because I have cellulite" or "I can't wear a tank top because I look too bony."
One thing I get really upset about is women who think being healthy or fit makes you look like less of a woman. If you showed most women today a photo of Camille Leblanc Bazinet, 2014 CrossFit Games Fittest Women on Earth, or a photo of Kate Moss, world renowned super model, who would they prefer to look like? Just because Camille has outstanding defined muscle tone, can carry all her groceries from her car to her house alone, and can lift more than the average man apparently means to some she is less beautiful than Kate Moss? I mean hello! Women? Why wouldn't you want to understand your full capacity as a female? How come this idea of what you're supposed to look like doesn't carry over to men? Nobody takes a look at Woody Allen and a look at Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and says "Woody is less of a man because his muscles aren't as big as The Rock's." or "Woody looks like a woman." This is just one example or how women's beauty standards have been blown way out of the proportion.
I struggled with they way I "should" look since I was 14 years old. Unfortunately now these problems are starting to appear in girls as young as 7 or 8. My 9 year old niece shouldn't have to look into the mirror and question how she looks. It's just a unnecessary problem we've created for our youth.
We've also let the scale become a tool to measure our self worth which is the worst thing you could do. No machine should dictate the way you feel each day based on a number that appears below your feet. Unfortunately this idea of beauty has lead women to unhealthy and scary habits. Studies suggest that the total percentage of women in the U.S that are unhappy with their body image is 91% and the total number of women with some type of eating disorder is over 8,000,000. These facts are hard to hear. It's sad but we have to talk about issues like this because they are real. In order to change this, we must change the standards.
This unfair world we live in has decided for us what is considered an ideal body image but that doesn't mean you can't alter it. In reality we got ourselves here and it's been a long road, but within the past 10 years, it's been changing. We have been improving as a country of body positivity but still have a long way to go.
3 years ago I found Crossfit and my perspective for beauty changed tremendously. I started to believe being strong and independent was more beautiful then being thin and underfed. I was lifting heavy weights and eating peanut butter. I cared more about being healthy and fit than malnourished and a size zero. I started to follow and surround myself with women who wanted me to succeed. People believed in me and I now believe in myself. I no longer ask for help with daily chores and have found a new sense of independence that is more important to me than anything else. I don't have to rely on another human being to do my work and I care more about my health than my appearance.
I work for myself. This is self value. This is what we should consider beautiful. This is achievable by all women and men.
So I am here to tell you, it's not your fault, you have been brain washed by society and advertising. Now, if you're wondering what can I do to fix this? How can I erase the unrealistic image of what a women should aspire to look like today, well here are some steps.
1. Surround yourself with people you admire not only physically but personally can be a first step.
2. Have friends and family that support you and love you no matter how you look.
3. Stop comparing yourself to the women on the front of the magazine because guess what? She gets paid to do that for living and may have been Photoshopped.
4. Stop putting celebrities and reality stars on pedestals or use them as role models of how a successful person should look and act.
5. Inform yourself and question advertisements and commercials. Be aware of what the media is feeding you. The commercial industry is trying to sell you something. If you see a women sitting in a brand new Ferrari with a "good looking" man, carrying a designer purse in front of her multi-million dollar house, don't think that in order the get the house, the car, the man, you need to look like this woman. This is not true.
6. Stop shaming other women for the way they look. Think of every women as your sister. We are all in this together. Criticizing another woman because she's "too large to be wearing that outfit" or maybe "her butt doesn't fill out her jeans" shouldn't even be a thing. You are just adding to this negative expectation that you or her will never be.
7. Stop believing your self worth is measured by likes on social media. Last time I checked likes are free so there's no reason you should be associating that with any sort of value. Reality stars like Kylie Jenner have millions of likes because she has millions of followers. This doesn't make her imagery more acceptable in my eyes, only more known.
8. Take a step into your local Crossfit gym and pick up a barbell, you'll probably do some stuff you never thought you could, and then feel really great about it.
"Squat, jump, climb, throw, lift." Greg Glassman