I didn’t post it for attention (per se). I’m not seeking attention for my body, shape or size. I’m seeking to affect change. And to affect change we need to engage in dialogue. And in order to engage in dialogue I need your attention. So yeah, I didn’t post it for attention (per se), I posted it with intention.
Sidebar: Why do I even have a photo of me naked in the woods? Ahhh, yes, great question. It was taken by the fabulous Brooke Hewitt-Morgan from Captured Essence Photography. She and I partner annually on a unique retreat designed to support women in embracing the (awesome) skin they’re in. It’s traditionally a one day event, but this year it became a multi zoom call, one physically distanced photography session that was equally extraordinary. This is one of my photos from that day. I was able to get nude in the forest in part because of the amazing conversations we’d has as a community of women, the support I felt from them (yes, even as the leader, I needed that!), and the brilliant gifts of Brooke as a photographer. The photo experience we include in the day isn’t about the photos, but about the experience of being vulnerable and accepting of your body – right now, no changes required.
So, back to why I shared it….but before I share that intention…here’s the post that started it all.
Here’s my intention:
- I want to add more diversity to the imagery shared on social media. Now, I know saying this I’m a white, cisgender female who lives in a body that most people would categorize as “normal.” I can shop at most stores and find clothes that fit. I recognize I have thin privilege in that regard. However, I’m also a fitness professional. And by the standards set by the fitness industry (the industry in which I work), I’m far from the fit ideal (read: lean with visible muscularity). I’m curvy and have rolls, cellulite and what I affectionately call “bonus skin” from housing humans (2 of them). So yeah, for me as a fitness professional this is stepping out of my comfort zone and adding diversity to the social feed. This is me taking a stand and adding my own image to the mix. Because I know that someone out there will see me, and feel seen as well. This is the impact that sharing a photo can make.
- I want people to see that fit doesn’t look like anything in particular. Because in addition to being curvy and having rolls, cellulite and extra skin, I’m also healthy, strong and fit. And I want people to “get” that healthy is an outfit that looks different on every body. I want to slay this Diet Culture informed notion that in order to be healthy and fit, one must also be thin. I want people to see that all bodies are good bodies. Let’s stop demonizing bigger bodies and fatness, and instead celebrate health at every size.
- I want women to be empowered in their bodies – at every age and stage. I think it’s important to normalize the evolution of the body over time. I’m in peri-menopause. My peri-menopausal body looks different than my post-natal body and different again from my pre-natal body. And all of these versions of my body are beautiful. More so, who I am as a person, the value I offer to the world, is unchanged by my changing shape. By sharing this version of my body I hope women can gain a bit more comfort in the skin their in – whatever it looks like.
- I want to shed the shame around body and body dissatisfaction. There is so much shame around body. It’s pervasive and harmful. We live in a Diet Culture that perpetuates this notion that our bodies are a problem and it is our job to “fix” them by whatever means necessary, at all costs. The sad thing is, so often, the cost is our health. Read this blog for more on that. But we’ve all got the antidote to shame – it’s vulnerability. Vulnerability shines a light in the shadows. By sharing my story, I gave permission to countless others to also share theirs. Whether it was in the comments of my post, with a friend or loved one or even in a journal. When we tell our stories, we release some of the hold they have on us. We walk closer to body freedom and liberation.
- I wanted to stop the scroll and ignite a conversation. As I said in my introduction I used this specific picture because I knew it would get attention. But not attention for my body – I’m not interested in your comments on my body (my body is not your business). I was (and am) seeking attention for the words attached to the picture. The post I shared got over 500 reactions, 150 shares and nearly 300 comments. But they weren’t reacting to my picture. They were reacting to my words. The comments spoke to this. Many of them along thees lines: “you might as well have been describing me!” So much relatedness, so much awareness. So many powerful conversations have ensued. THIS is what it’s all about. Because we can’t STOP Diet Culture and shift the cultural consciousness away diet mentality if we don’t talk about it. Talk about the costs. Talk about the hurt and the trauma. We need to engage in meaningful conversation and increase awareness if we want to affect change.
Breaking free from Diet Culture won’t happen overnight. But it can happen. With commitment and bravery. Daring conversations and bold steps forward.
If you were moved by my post, if you were inspired by what I said, start a conversation. Write your own body story. Share it with a friend or loved one if you feel safe to do so and spark a conversation. And if it really speaks to you share it on social media. When we hear more body stories, we know we’re not alone. There is power in vulnerability. Because vulnerability can not only help us see that we’re not alone, it can also inspire community. And here’s what I know to be true:
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”Helen Keller
When we get a little angry at Diet Culture, that’s a place of power. Because we can use that fire in us to fuel a drive for change. Together, we can do so much.
If exploring your relationship with your body feels like a bit much to explore solo, connect with me. I’d love to support you through one-to-one coaching, group coaching or direct you to an appropriate masterclass in the Super You Studio. You are not alone.