I will not be afraid of women

I just read a rather touching post over at Modern Paleo, titled Crossfit and Body Image. In it, the author Emily talks about her experience with Crossfit as focused on fitness and health, rather than image.   Awesome.  I’m thrilled that this is a common Crossfit experience.  W2FG, Crossfit.  This kind of shit rocks my world.

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The most poignant part of the post for me, however, was Emily’s opening anecdote.  Emily told the story of a young, fit girl at the Crossfit gym who was disgusted with her body.  As she disparaged her butt and her thighs, Emily watched, dumbstruck.  First, how could such a beautiful girl think such awful thoughts? Second, if this young girl loathed her perky, perfect body so much, thought Emily, how must she feel about Emily’s older, more heavily-worn limbs?

I’ve experienced the exact same situation many times.  She’s so beautiful: she must think I’m fat.  !   I’m sure everyone has felt the weight of similar comparisons.  Yet of course our loathing is internally directed, and chances are quite good that if we saw a random, anonymous body that looked just like ours, we might like it just fine.

The thing is, we have to be able to be simultaneously more removed from and more in touch with our bodies.  More removed because we need to be able to step back and say “fuck it, body image isn’t really a bit deal, and I look just as normal and good as everybody else,” and more in touch with our bodies because we need to forgive and embrace them.  Perfection isn’t achievable by anyone, not by a long shot, so stop looking at other women in your life like they’re beating you to the finish line.

There is a Dar Williams song, “As Cool as I am.”   It’s about embracing womanhood and supporting each other, rather than fearing each other’s opinions and feeling judged all the time.  So… let’s do this.  In Crossfit gyms, at the mall, on campuses.  At work and in the grocery store. All over the world.  There is no race to beauty, and there is no race to health.  No man or woman is your enemy, and I’ll be damned if I ever play a part in making anyone feel otherwise.

Edit: Nor of men!  Competition with the other gender is different, but it is still important.  This really struck home today when my mother asked me if I read the latest post over at Mark’s Daily Apple, the Unconquerable Dave.  I deliberately hadn’t read it, I realized as I was emailing my mom back, because sometimes the awesomeness of others makes me feel inadequate.  I was afraid Dave would make me feel inadequate.  This was ridiculous.   He was enormously inspiring, and I’m buoyed to the moon and back by his joys.

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02 2011

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  1. Peter Silverman #
    1

    I appreciate how you meet science with the personal, and don’t discount either.

  2. Matthew Squire #
    2

    Right, we should try to do away with envy, the hatred of the good for being good, by building self-esteem. Unfortunately, it’s common in crossfit gyms especially among new members. It’s up to the old guard to show the way. Self-esteem has many sources, and thus shouldn’t be solved solely by spending hours at the gym, but seeing the change that consistent effort makes will certainly help people to use their faculty of reason in other areas of their life.



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