I was driving in my car to a friend’s last night and an advertisement for a local fitness business came on. Instead of motivating me to use their business, it did the opposite of what I think it was intending to do.
It ENRAGED me.
Yes, I know, enrage is a strong word. But man, I was fired UP! Especially after my fb live talk with Carolyn Campbell about shifting to be more “Body Positive”. If you haven’t seen it, then I highly recommend it. You can find it here “Your weight is the the least interesting thing about you” .
The advert on the radio wasn’t anything different than what we have heard before, but now I hear it with a new understanding and perspective.
And you know what? it is no longer okay.
Not that it was ever okay to begin with…but it is no longer okay to believe or accept the BS women are being fed about how we should look and feel about our bodies. Shame based marketing to motivate you is NOT OKAY. Once your eyes have been opened to make the shift to being more body positive or neutral, you can’t undo the change. You start to pick up on the crap people are dealing and tolerating as an acceptable way to feel about our bodies.
Want to know what I heard a local fitness business try to market to me? Not me specifically, but my guess is that I was their target market, being a middle class mid-age woman. I bet it won’t be shocking and I am sure you have all believed and said it to yourselves before. I am summarizing as I am going by memory and my memory has been affected by children and the normal wear tear of age and, well, life.
It said something to the effect “Are you going somewhere down south this time of year? Want to get it bikini ready? Then come to ______ and get bikini ready!” (I can’t even remember which fitness place it was, as I was boiling at this point).
You know what this is saying right? That the body you have NOW is not acceptable to put into a bikini. That the only way it can be acceptable to wear a bikini is to lose weight and look “better” than you do right now. Now, I know it is not saying that directly and some of you might say I am putting words into their mouths. But, hear me out. They are playing on, and taking advantage of, women feeling self conscious of their bodies, and thinking that they need to look a “certain way” to feel okay wearing a bikini.
This lead me to research other marketing material from local fitness establishments and I found this:
“Most people will feel embarrassed and ashamed at the beginning of summer when they put their swimsuit back on – but not you!”
Again, they are saying if you don’t lose weight or tone up, you will most likely feel ashamed and embarrassed when you put on your swimsuit. Now, they probably have a valid point because we, as women, have been fed shame marketing like this and believe it! We believe that we CANNOT have any dimples, pimples, cellulite, rolls and jiggles if we want to wear a bikini or swimsuit. We may offend the general public with our SKIN and BODIES. Our bodies that have all been made differently.
There is NO NORMAL, there is no IDEAL shape and there is NO reason to be embarrassed by it. Truly.
I know this is a radical statement for some and though some of you may still nod in agreement with me, but you still won’t put that bathing suit on in public…or at least not without contemplating intense exercise and dieting that is not sustainable. And when we can’t sustain it or hit that ideal we thought we had to be…we feel ashamed and guilty.
Ask yourself why you believe this or why you think this way? I challenge you to honestly answer that. Some of you will say “because I will feel better about myself when I lose weight and feel toned.” But feel better how? Really, peel back the layers as to WHY and get to the root of this feeling and the intention. Would you feel better because you feel healthy or because you feel you have to be a certain weight in order to wear a bathing suit. If you are only dieting and exercising to go down south and wear a bathing suit, then I highly doubt it is to feel “healthy”. It is absolutely because you feel that you have to be a certain weight or size to be able to wear one.
Now I am not saying that eating healthy and exercising is not a good thing….because I know that it is. I know that what we put into our bodies can affect our physical and mental health. I know that exercise can release endorphins and help you feel happier and it can prevent injury and increase overall health. However, our health is not determined by our size, shape or weight only. Your INTENTION and your MOTIVATION are even MORE important. Don’t do it because you think you need to look a certain way. Don’t do it because you want your body to be “bikini ready” or whatever that means. Don’t do it because you are ashamed of your body.
Do it because you value yourself and love yourself. Stop telling yourself that who you are today and the body you have today is not of value.
Something needs to change and it starts with us. We wouldn’t be fed shame marketing if it didn’t work. However, it does and we need to stop believing it, because it is no longer okay.
Embrace and respect the body you have now. You deserve it.
Images by Sweet Shots Photography