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Yesterday I was working out at the gym where I’m also a personal trainer, when I overheard a conversation between two of my male co-workers. One of them made the observation that whenever he sees women working out on their own, all they ever seem to want to do is lower body work. Or as he put it “butt exercises”. I, of course, was quick to chime in with:
"Not me! I do other stuff too!"
I thought about this for a few seconds more, then I added:
“Of COURSE we do. It’s what society wants us to do. As women, that’s what’s expected of us. Having a round, perky booty is trendy right now. It’s socially acceptable. It’s what we feel we need to do to be “liked”. (Both in real life AND on social media.)
"Whoa, $hit just got deep."
Yeah it did. I hate to be the person to rain on the parade of peach emojis, but it’s something I want more people to start to consider. Especially when it comes to having an aesthetic goal. Not a day goes by at work that I don’t hear someone make mention of:
My thoughts on this?
"OF COURSE YOU FEEL THAT WAY!"
This might come as a surprise to some. Especially because I claim to be a body positive fitness professional. The truth is, if I had more time (and was more witty) in the moments I heard these things, I’d go on a rant about how weight loss is not inherently good, or how much I hate the idea of “bikini season”, or the fact that you’re a grown adult and can wear and eat whatever you want. (That’s what my blog is for, right?) 😉
I don’t often go there, because I don’t necessarily want “$hit to get deep” every time I go to the gym. The other truth is, I empathize with my clients, students, family and friends who wish they could change their bodies. I hear you. I see you. To be honest, I sometimes still have flickers of those feelings too.
Right now that look is thin, with visible muscle definition, and bonus points if you have a nice butt. It unfortunately also usually means white, young, straight, cisgender, and able bodied. It’s easy to see why so many of us are chasing after that ideal. At the end of the day, I think all most people want is to be seen, heard, respected, and liked. Because of this we’re often willing to do whatever it may take to achieve that.
The right answer is going to be a bit different for every person. I DO think they are worth asking though. No, it’s not necessarily the fun or sexy choice. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable or results in very “deep” realizations. But given the alternative, which is to blindly accept current beauty standards and perceptions of what it means to be fit and healthy, we owe it to ourselves to at least consider this stuff.
Lately I’ve been coming back to this idea again and again. When it comes to aesthetic goals, there are no guarantees. Even the most meticulous meal plans and training programs don’t always yield the results you might expect. (I’ve been there before and I know you probably have been too!) And even if you DO manage to achieve the results you were looking for, it doesn’t always feel the way you imagined it might. Right?
Learn more about body positivity here.