I have been really struggling with my body this week. Which seems silly. My body is capable of amazing things. I’ve run marathons. I teach multiple classes a week, sometimes multiple classes a day. Sometimes, I look in the mirror in the morning, and see something awesome. And yet, this week, when Aunt Flo decided to visit a few days early, and I put on a teeny bit of weight after what I felt was an amazing week at the gym, everything went to hell, and I became uncomfortably aware of how much physical space I was taking up.
I found the responses to last week’s post really interesting. IRL, as well as online, I heard a lot from you guys (which I love). However, the most intriguing responses came from the folks who’d shared on it in an online Trail and Ultra Running group I’ve been a part of. Many folks commended my friend for calling me out, as they should have. A few folks commended me for admitting what an asshole I’d been. And more than most admitted to feeling poorly about their own bodies. Some admitted to doing what I’d done, turning the things they felt were negative about themselves into rules that dictate what others should wear, and how they should wear it.
What’s so interesting about this group is that these folks are capable, strong humans. Some of them truly do look like models. Some look like fitness models. Some are overweight. Some don’t look like “typical” runner. Some do. However, their running and their capabilities are in no way defined by their looks. So why all the angst as it relates to our bodies, especially considering the fact that at the very least, in that group especially, our bodies are capable of running endless miles on rugged terrain?
When did we get so aware of our bodies, and what they should look like?
For me, I remember being 120 lbs as a freshman in high school. I struggled with my looks, the way I’m sure all 14-year-olds did. I was sitting in a civics, and I looked down. I was wearing a fitted top, and noticed the part of my tummy that was hanging over the edge of my jeans. I pinched it. I pinched it again. To this day when I’m feeling anxious or particularly down, I will look down, grab that little roll, and pinch. No matter how small or how round it’s gotten.
I’m not sure how I learned that behavior, or what drew me to became aware of this part of my body. However, at 13 or 14, I knew that there was something “wrong” with it. And, as I talked about last week, the things I find “wrong” with myself, I look for in others.
All of that said, I do identify with the fact that not everything I’m thinking is logical or right. I recently ran a marathon. I have incredible physical strength. I just completed a grueling vinyasa sculpt class with minimal nausea. I should have incredible gratitude for my body, these limbs, these muscles that get me from more than point A to point B. But, my first instinct, my first learned behavior is to be critical of the physical manifestation of who I am.
At what point did you become aware of your body? What does your body mean to you?