I just read the most badass article above and I have to share it with you. No really. It was ridonkulously amazing. If you are a woman, if you are a HUMAN, you should read this.
I feel that Sophie's message, besides being so entertainingly, yet poignantly written, is an important one to share. Important for the girl I was and the woman I am. For all my other girl-woman peeps who struggle with body image, disordered eating and self-esteem. So I'm sharing my perspective, my take, with you.
What if: "Strong is the new skinny"
Yes. Exactly. What if, when I was a girl, I was told to strive to be strong instead of thin. What if the message society gave me was that a strong woman was of ultimate value. Would my adolescence, my early twenties, have been different?
If you read my blog, you know that I've struggled with disordered body image and eating my entire life. Oh, it's not clinical- I've never demonstrated symptoms to the clinical level. But raise your hand (mentally) if you've: a) known someone who lost their period due to weight loss b) looked in the mirror and wailed internally over your fat-ugly______ c) felt proud that you skipped a meal d) felt happy that your jeans were loose e) gone on a fad diet, or any diet f) felt that your current weight or body shape, whatever it was, just needed a bit of improvement g) heard someone say that the best part of having the stomach flu was the weight that you lost....
Yup, yup, yep, been there for all of them.
After devouring countless books and research articles on feminism, body image, female health and our relationship historically and culturally with the media, I am a strong believer that this "body type ideal" of tall, thin and waif-like is enforced upon us artificially by the beauty, fashion and advertising industry along with a healthy dose of patriarchy valuing women for extrinsic qualities such as ideal beauty and as sexual objects.
In a way, this can be viewed as a positive thing. Unlike evolutionary psychological theory (which honestly I feel is a load of self serving, patriarchal, narrow-minded crap- we are not apes and behaviours that *may* have occurred a millennia ago can be explained by the-very different- social construct, brain and cognitive development and lifestyles homo sapiens led: ie social and culture and NOT irreversible genetics) our social mores and culture can CHANGE.
What if girls are told from a young age to be strong, intelligent, caring, courageous instead of thin, pretty, "nice" and gentle? My thinnest moments were when I was stressed and unhappy and I know for a fact I was not eating enough to nourish my brain- which obviously results in poor cognitive functioning, problem solving, emotional regulation and concentration.
You know what was my fucking unicorn moment? When my unflexibility forced me to improve significantly in my strength endurance in yoga. When I looked in the mirror and saw the gorgeous MUSCLES in my back and arms. When I could hold dolphin plank longer than my weight lifting husband. It was like suddenly the fear of 'bulking up' (which is a ridiculous myth btw) disappeared into the excitement of being fucking STRONG.
Just last night I poked my belly to feel my awesome abdominal muscles I've been building. I may have even showed them off to Andrew. I am so excited with my body right now, and I am currently at my "heaviest" and highest dress size.
This is to say that I feel it's a bit DESPITE yoga. I know. But I feel the focus on yoga asana (for the most part) in popular western yoga is to be thin, lose weight, "toned". Even the examples of strong yoginis we have as famous role models are still (white) thin and strong. (Now, we know there are some strong fabulous yoginis who are bucking the system- I heart you! We need MORE of you!).
This is where Sadie's snarky post at Huffpo makes me cringe. Perhaps instead of making others feel like yoga is the ONLY solution to being strong and healthy, we should simply encourage women to be STRONG however best that works for them. Our bodies and selves do not fit in a cookie cutter mold, one size fits all model. So why assume yoga to be the panacea in this diverse reality?
Strong is the new Skinny- Pass it On.