Bec Sparrow: "I'm so sick of being told there's something wrong with how I look."

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I exercised. Every day. Really hard. I ran on treadmills. I did push ups. I went to cycling classes. In fact during my first pregnancy I continued to exercise and work out with my personal trainer at the gym doing weights. I was one of THOSE women.

And then I had my first child. And then another. And then another. And then before I knew it I’d had four babies in six years and my desire/ability/interest in exercise came to a screeching halt.

Sister, I was tired.

My days became filled with negotiating with at least one toddler with the temperament of Kim Jung Il, being woken throughout the night by someone wanting to do a wee/scared of monsters/needing to urgently discuss Shopkins, trying to walk through rooms strewn with Lego and cutting off the circulation in my hands while I lugged nine bags of groceries up the stairs purely because I didn’t want to do two trips to the car. #GoodTimes #Blessed

I want to exercise but I simply don’t have time.

I want to exercise but I have the kids with me.

I want to exercise but I’m too tired.

I want to exercise but I don’t. What I actually want to do when I have time to myself is to sit down with a cup of tea for FIVE MINUTES OF PEACE.

Bec with her son Fin. Image supplied.

Yet the fact that I rarely exercise right now weighs heavily on my mind.

It’s not because I think I’m shockingly unfit or unhealthy. I’m not. It weighs on my mind because I know that my current size 12-14 shape is deemed unacceptable by society.

We don’t live in a culture that encourages us to exercise. We live in a culture that demands we are thin. Thin. Thin and toned- even better. And if you’re not that as a woman – if you’re not ‘hot’ – then everything about you is wrong. Unattractive. Doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved. Doesn’t matter if you’ve travelled extensively or learnt 10 languages or raised $50,000 for charity or invented Post-it Notes or been an amazing colleague, neighbour, sister, daughter or mother – if you’re anything other than a size 8-10 you lose.

Well screw that. I refuse to believe that. I refuse to take that on as some kind of truth. And what that means is that every day I am in this weird sort of battle to like myself. Turns out liking yourself – or more to the point- refusing to, you know, detest yourself can be exhausting.


In this week’s episode of The Well, Robin Bailey and I unpack our vastly different relationships with exercise. And while I am keen to move more and to feel strong (both for the physical and mental health benefits), I’m just so tired of being told there’s something wrong with how I look …

Listen to the latest episode of The Well here...

To quote artist Caroline Caldwell, I live in a society that profits from my self doubt. And so from the moment I wake up in the morning, I am bombarded with messages that how I look is not okay. And I feel like I am waging a war that says to me, I can't be a size 12 to 14, even though I think I'm fit enough. I think I'm healthy, I run around after my kids. Everything that I look at says to me 'you’re too big', 'you're not okay', 'you should look like this.' And you know what? I like who I am. I'm fine with how I look. But it is a rebellious act to like myself. And I have to fight this war. And that's something Robin Bailey -my friend and co-host and a woman who exercises like a demon -  does not understand because she has a shape that is more socially acceptable.

Here's a bodyweight circuit you can do at home, if you want. No pressure. (Post continues after video.)

It’s an emotional episode for me this week. Don’t get me wrong. I’m on a mission to get moving and to exercise more. And I know when I need to lose a few kilos. But I’m doing it for my own health reasons not so the world will congratulate me for fitting into a pair of skinny jeans.
And now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to sit down and have a cup of tea …

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