It’s never too early to start feeling judged and insecure about your body!
… feeling judged and insecure about your body.
At first I thought this was an internet scam. But sadly children competing in body building is a thing.
Children Body Building is a Thing
There are so many shades of wrong about this and judging from the comments on my news feed, I was not the only one who felt this way. When channelling this sort of narcissism at such a young age, what hope do these young girls have of understanding their value is much more than their outer layer?
Many called out the parents and think this is shameful behaviour on their behalf. I believe that 99.9% of parents absolutely love their children and always try to do the best by them. The parents of these girls (and boys also compete in this f**ked up competition) do not love their children any less that you love yours.
Therefore, our culture has to take some responsibility for the fact that these competitions exist at all.
Like all competitions it is all about the winning… but in the long run, we will all feel like failures because youth and beauty are not achievements. They are just by-products of time and our DNA.
Recently ex-Playboy model Dani Mathers, felt completely in her right to take a photo of a naked stranger at her gym and paste it on Snapchat, along with the words “If I can’t unsee this, then you can’t either”. Dani (who has 553k followers on Instagram and more than 1,000,000 on Facebook) believed that this woman should be shamed for her body.
The reality is that Dani no longer recognises or places value on women aging naturally.
(Update: Dani has now repeatedly apologised and claims it was a mistake, because she truly loves women… however not before the police began proceedings to press charges… and oh, she has also been banned from LA Fitness, all clubs… forever… Silly, silly young woman).
You see, Dani was (and probably still is) in competition mode.
Dani is just an older version of that girl on the stage and she is the younger version of the parents who encourage their girls to believe their worth is what they can see in the mirror.
Our Silence Hurts Us All
Silence keeps things as they are. It is only by speaking out that things change.
Our society is not stagnant. It is forever re-inventing itself and now more than ever, thanks to social media, we have the ability to influence change and call out the rubbish.
Culture is like wearing sunglasses that adjust to the light. We view everything through them and we often forget that we are wearing them. And when everyone is wearing the same kind of glasses, we don’t notice them either.
Promoting Only One Body Type
I believe the fitness industry wears such glasses when it promotes a single body type (young, thin and athletic) as the paradigm of health and well-being. It is evident in every before and after shot, in every call to action to Kick-Start a New You! slash Detox slash 30 day Challenge fitspiration.
This method of shaming people into exercise and to support a zillion dollar diet and supplement industry hasn’t worked in the past, as our obesity and inactivity rates continue to grow. But what it does achieve is continue to support a culture that puts the emphasis on what we look like, rather than acknowledging the diversity that is health and well being on an individual level.
An eating disorder or over exercising can creep into a woman’s life, as she faces the challenge of living up to the perceived image of what health and wellbeing looks like (young, thin and athletic) and failing the competition. And as fitness professionals we can also feel the added pressure to “look the part”. We are not immune as health promoters to issues such as orthoxia or hyper gymnasia!
It can be extremely difficult to be 100% sure if someone’s behaviour around food and exercise is extreme, because we are all wearing the cultural glasses that equates thinness with fitness and food restrictions with health. Even our medical professionals assess our health with the BMI scale which is not even relevant for most people!
However, what we do know is that disordered eating is much easier to deal with, than an eating disorder. Early awareness and intervention is key.
That is why I was so excited to be involved in a new initiative by Eating Disorders Victoria.
How Far Is Too Far?
How Far is Too Far? is a website that you should absolutely know about. This website has been created for Fitness Professionals, Health Professionals, teachers and parents. It gives you the tools to help you know when you (or someone you know) has rituals around food, exercise and body image that moved into the grey area… into the how far is too far? zone.
Here are my top 10 tips for creating a body positive culture for you and your children:
- Unfollow the pages, feeds, Instagram accounts, the snap-chatters who have focus completely on the images of bodies that can never be you (thanks age, children and photoshop!)
- Monitor your self talk – how often do you say aloud or in your head negative things about your body and / or how you look?
- Have a list of body positive things to say to combat #2 e.g.: My body is injury free. My body has birthed my beautiful children. My body is strong. These messages have to be your own and you need to own them
- Resist the urge to judge other women based on their looks
- Acknowledge when you are comparing your body to another… just like finger prints… no 2 are the same
- Practice changing the subject when a conversation begins about perceived faults about our own or other people’s bodies
- Enjoy your food and exercise, neither are a reward or punishment
- Follow great Facebook pages like the Moderation Movement
- Read the book Neuro-slimming by Dr. Helena Popovic
- For extra help, check out this website – Body Positive Australia
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