BY MIA FREEDMAN
Over the holidays I felt really bad about my body. I won’t go into details because I’m not fishing for compliments or reassurance.
I debated even writing this post because I am passionate about promoting body positive messages and saying that I was feeling crap about myself is not exactly true to that philosophy.
Except that my over-riding philosophy, even more than being body positive, is being authentic. Honest. I don’t believe we do each other (or ourselves) any favours by only speaking about how things SHOULD be. Sometimes we need to acknowledge how they actually are. Hopefully we can then try to work out why and fix it but I’ll get to that in a minute.
It’s ironic that I spent some of my summer holidays feeling bad about my body because I was going to the gym almost every day.
I realise this isn’t the way it’s meant to work. On holidays you’re meant to NOT go to the gym. It’s only when you get back to regular life after Christmas that you’re meant to get all resolution-y and start going to Pump classes or lifting weights.
I know. I KNOW.
But I like to exercise because it’s good for my head and it’s actually a treat for me to have the time to do it during the less structured, frenetic pace of holidays. Also, gyms are a novelty for me. I usually exercise alone at home on my treadmill in my pyjamas with a sports bra underneath. I’ll leave you with that sexy mental picture while I tie my laces.
So I’m at the gym on the treadmill and the stepper (I’m a mindless cardio type of girl) for about half an hour a day, listening to podcasts or music on my phone.
In front of me, like at most gyms, is a bank of TVs playing music videos. This too is a novelty because I never watch music videos.
Ever since I had kids, they’ve been banned in my house just like crack and cigarettes.
It was only when I found myself thinking “I feel fat” that I remembered some great advice I once read from a therapist who said you should always answer that bit of internal dialogue with “…but fat is not a feeling. What’s actually going on here?”
And then I realised what was different. What had triggered this unexpected bout of focus on what my body WASN’T (toned, skinny, ‘perfect’) instead of what it was (healthy, strong, the bearer of three children).
The difference was music videos.
Bloody music videos.
Nothing else had changed in my life. I was on holidays, relaxed, happy, unwinding from stress…..I hadn’t particularly gained weight so WHY THESE WEIRD FEELINGS OF FATNESS?
For half an hour every day for almost three weeks I had unwittingly exposed myself to a steady diet of images like these:
At first, these videos simply pissed me off due to the appalling way women are portrayed like porn stars. I’ve written about this before, the way this type of imagery is invading public spaces like bars, bowling alleys, restaurants and gyms and how uncomfortable it makes me. Particularly when I’m with my kids.