how to love your body if you’re not a full-time Pilates instructor

Every time I do my online Pilates workouts, I think that I would not be friends with the instructor in real life. I like the workouts*, but I have a pretty unreasonably low ~GLITTER~ and *NAIL POLISH* threshold.

Cassey hiking

For a moment a few weeks ago, I was reading her blog and I thought I’d found a connection between us: Cassey went hiking. She was shooting a Pilates video on top of a mountain (as one does), and it was a pretty difficult hike, she said. I felt unreasonably proud of her for going out among the spiders and dirt to use her impressive muscles to do actual work.

Next, I was sure, we she and her cameramen were going to have beers together and talk about how lame society is, because that’s what you do when you go hiking. But I was wrong. Here’s what happened next – after the hike up the mountain, the perfect-form Pilates workout, and the hike back down – “WE HAD A LATE LUNCH. THE BOYS HAD PIZZA, AND I ATE A SALAD.”

Now, I’m sure that Cassey loves salad. There are three things I’m sure Cassey loves: nail polish, keeping her belly button tucked in, and vegetables. And if Cassey’s idea of a perfect end to a day of hard work in the great outdoors is to eat a salad while her guy friends gobble carbs, then I’m glad she got what she wanted.

But that will never be me.

Every few months I read Cassey’s blog because this is all oddly comforting to me. It reminds me that she does not only “work out for an hour six days a week and eat clean” (as she recommends we regular folk take up doing). She structures her whole life around having a perfect body, and she manages to live up to society’s standards of beauty. And I’m simply not willing to do that. When I start to feel jealous that she enjoys a perfect body, I think about all the things I enjoy that she doesn’t – plenty of time with large obscure books friends, a career with other fringe benefits*, and I EAT THE SAME FOOD AS BOYS.

But as much as I like those things about myself, I can still end up being just kind of resigned to my body, barely not-resentful of it for having fat on it. Some days, even this minimal level of tolerance is a hard-won accomplishment; there were years in the past when it was an impossibillity. Like most people, I guess, my history of body issues is long and painful and not very original – the brushes with anorexia, the generally-loathing-myself – which doesn’t make it any less real to me.

These days, though, I am determined to love my body, to really be confident about it, if only because it pisses me off that advertisers and TV producers think they can capitalize on my insecurity by telling/showing me I’m not good enough. Because I am. I’m not overweight by any medical standard, and I have a full, multifaceted life for which I will not apologize just because it only included 30 minutes of exercise two days this week.

Now I feel better….?

Everyone pretends to say all these things to women* – “love yourself”, “be confident”, “don’t compare yourself to others” – but they rarely mean it and they never tell you how. Cassey herself says all these things, but her workouts all have names that have little to do with loving yourself (“Torture”, “Attack”, “Destroy”) and everything to do with comparing yourself (“Victoria’s Secret Angel Arms”). So in the end, it all just makes us feel even more inadequate, because we not only have jiggly butts or weak arms, but we also can’t just up and “love our bodies” and “be confident” and “shine from the inside out”.

Without getting into a lot of feminist and communication theory, please trust me when I say that our world is structured to make you feel terrible about your body. We can argue about whether this is intentional or cultural or just sort of unfortunate, but there are a couple things you can’t argue – that it is immensely profitable, and it is everywhere. Cultural and media influences are working every day to shape the way you think and act. One* Dove ad or one Sunday school lesson about being God’s handiwork is not going to work effectively against this barrage. We have to work at reshaping our habits and our thoughts, rather than conforming any longer to the patterns of this world.

Part Two: The Actual Suggestions Part is on its way!

*They’re hard enough that I feel like I’ve gotten stronger, and I admire the incredibly hard work Cassey’s done to build a brand and a business using YouTube and a simple blog. The videos are on YouTube and Cassey’s site is called Blogilates.
*I think?
*I know guys have their own issues here. I have no idea if my thoughts will be helpful to you, gentlemen.
*very, very profitable

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1 Comment

  1. Christopher Graves

     /  June 10, 2014

    You have a career?


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