Wellness Wednesday: The Truth About My Before and After Selfies
As a holistic wellness coach, I can see the pressure such things as ‘before and after’ selfies can put on people. Especially women. You can be anyone on the internet. Pop a hip, wear a proper fitting swimsuit or bra and underwear, use complimentary lighting, work that camera angle, apply a filter … the list goes on how one can make themselves look better in pictures. I’m not necessarily sure what’s WRONG with any of those things. Wearing clothes that fit? Yes, I do that. Do I choose complimentary camera angles when taking selfies? Yup, I do that too. I have a weak chin that I’m fairly self-conscious about, but I’m learning to embrace it. Maybe. As in, I rock that camera angle when I want. No camera angle, including vaulting a tripod from the ceiling to shoot from, will disguise the visual proof that my face has indeed slimmed down from all the ass-kicking workouts I’ve been doing the past 7 months. Do I use filters for my progress shots (which is what I prefer to call them)? Yes indeedy, high contrast, muted black and white is my fave for the side by side action. Does it carve out definition that isn’t there? Don’t think so. Isn’t that what photoshop is for? Do I jut out my hip, twist my torso and suck it in? Yes and no. I stand tall. I stand proud. I stand strong. I get my swerve on. Shoulders back, head held high and I let go of all those years of shame and embarrassment. I rock the self-inflicted photo-shoot, sure … but I don’t go to extremes. I like my curves, I like keeping it real and my tummy is soft in it’s its newly anchored relationship with its core. Sucking it all in would only add to my inner conflict on self-image, self-worth and how I share my story.
Our bodies are diverse. Not flawless. I’m choosing to embrace that instead of portraying an image of perfection. I’d rather portray an image of health. Of being strong over skinny. I’m not afraid to admit anymore that I’m damn proud of how far I’ve come and no amount of filters or hip poppin’ is going to fake it for me.
Are Before and After Selfies Demoralizing? Shame-Inducing?
It’s all in how it’s done. Am I fisting a bottle of hyped up energy drink, held next to my SWOLL ass while bent over a bathroom sink? No. Am I now living the jet-set life because I workout? Uhm, nope. Before and after pics can be especially annoying when one struggles with eating disorders, emotional eating and/or food addiction, to have someone’s pictures in your social feeds showing you how they’re apparently winning at life more than you. I get it. It took me far too long to admit to myself that I had to make a change. It was easier to snicker and make assumptions about ‘those type of women,’ than to actually get to know them or their stories; or even be real with myself about my own struggles. The truth is, I was overweight and spent way too much time trying to fit someone else’s vision of what healthy should look like most of my life. My relationship with my body will be constantly evolving. I share that unraveling publicly because I know there are other women who struggle in some of the same ways I do. I put myself out there with visuals and in how I articulate myself, because it’s a part of the work that I do in building relationships, gaining new clients and helping other women, just like me. It’s also deeply liberating on a personal level. If you’re not a fan of what I do or what I share, there’s always that little unfollow button you can hit or you know, you can even ‘unfriend’ me! No hard feelings. To tackle the discourse that’s happening in how the fitness industry is perceived is a challenge I meet with gusto. I work in an industry designed to capitalize on the insecurities of many women. And yet, there are exceptions to this ‘norm’ as within ANY industry. The landscape of health and wellness professionals is evolving and growing; and women, in particular, are taking the reigns. We’re aligning ourselves, teaching and supporting each other and taking back gatekeeper status on our body ideals, healthy body image and body positivity.
Fitness Lifestyle IS NOT Anti-Feminist
Feminism and the female body have long been linked. There is absolutely NOTHING anti-feminist about wanting to be healthy. (Let’s just cut straight to the point about that.) Healthy in body, mind and soul. Not all of us can have all three of those things, but it doesn’t mean we can’t work damn hard to attain our best version of that golden trifecta of living the good life, right on into our old age. True long-term healthy living does not mean punishing and denying oneself, to live up to media’s fucked up portrayal of what women (young and old), should look like. That’s a manipulative and unrealistic set of ideas that have been thrust upon us for decades. It means working hard for the health of our minds and bodies, just like we work hard in our relationships, our parenting, or careers; to achieve financial stability, intellectual satisfaction, and enriching, rewarding life experiences. For a long time and in many ways still, women are seen as failing in their duty to be visually pleasing, (while walking the fine line between ‘ladylike’ and titillating), to an audience used to viewing them as public property. From a young age, we … that is all of us — men and women — internalize the idea that women have an obligation to be attractive, particularly if they plan on making a habit of speaking in public or venturing into places where people can see them. When I post before and after pics or progress pics … I am indeed being seen. By more people than I have a clue about. This means, perhaps, that my message is being heard to and that I am contributing to the movement of women who are taking back their natural bodies.
Exercise Is About Much More Than Looking Good
Endorphins are real. Exercising for half an hour does not make me feel worse. In fact, after a workout I feel joyful, strong and ready to tackle my day. So. The haters gonna hate, but I soldier on. If you’re the type of person who is like, ‘I love my body the way it is and I don’t need to fucking exercise,’ then fabulous! Imma keep rollin’ the way I do, as you do yours. I like feeling happy and healthy. I like (more than) helping others get that same quality of life too. There are a plethora of reasons why healthy eating and exercise is important. I’ve found what my WHYS are and showing those reasons to the world via the internets enables me to help others figure that out too.