For years I have avoided this topic (head on). I have skirted around it, well – because I felt it was not my platform to discuss. My brand or platform as you will is about empowering others to be fearless in their lives. Not just running, but in all aspects of their lives.
Yet, this topic keeps coming up on social media, I thought I would share my thoughts and a recent experience. My thoughts and opinions are of my own, I know that many will think I am being too soft or some will think I am just in denial of the severity of the issue. If you don’t agree, please share why. If you agree, please share why (also). I certainly respect other people’s opinions, and do not feel I have the only opinion.
The topic? Body shaming. As I sit here and type, I am shaking my head – I honestly cannot believe I am writing about this political hot topic, but I think what i have to share may be unique and help others. If not your thing, that’s fine – I won’t get my panties in a bunch.
Backstory: Not too long ago, I went into the grocery store after a work-out. I was in my running gear, compression socks and backwards trucker hat. Yeah, I was the epitome of a lady. Haha! Anyways, I was standing in line to pay for my banana’s (I needed them for my post-workout smoothie) and the guy and gal in front of me started to chat with me. Obviously, they noticed my unconventional attire. I told them I just finished a run and I was sorry if I stunk. We all laughed. The man smiled yet the woman – her eyes got big and she immediately said, “wow, I never would have thought of you being a runner type, you don’t look like a runner, you look like a gym rat or something like that.”
I just chuckled and said, “yeah, more often than not – I don’t feel like a runner, but I keep plugging along to keep up my fitness.”
We both smiled and then paid for our groceries, with zero drama.
Let’s examine what just happened. I was told by a WOMAN (not a man, as some popular bloggers would make you believe that MEN are always making snide comments about a women’s body) and she made an observation and told me her thoughts.
I did NOT get upset, I didn’t assume she was insulting me.
I did NOT leave in a huff and puff determined to write several social media posts to convince everyone that this woman bullied me.
What was I thinking?
The women is not a runner and probably has never seen the average runner. Her exposure to runners is what she sees on TV and those would be the Pro Elite’s. They are small in stature, they are significantly thinner and in much better shape than me. So, if that is her image of a runner – I wouldn’t look like a runner to her. Whoopee, right?
I am 5’8” and a size 6/7. I am not a larger woman, I am not plus size, but I do not fit the mold of a runner in most people’s eyes. Just because we (runners) see runners in all shapes and sizes, doesn’t mean the average public sees the same.
Was she bullying me? (are you seeing me laughing yet) I don’t see it as an insult in any way. A woman made a comment about my body. If a man had said the same thing to me, would you think he was shaming me? Maybe she was impressed or maybe she didnt’ care, but I didn’t put that much importance into what she said. I replied with an honest reply without getting my panties in a wad. Sometimes I don’t feel like a runner but I was not insulting myself and certainly not shaming myself. That is exactly how I feel and if most runners are honest, we all feel that way from time to time.
Why is the online community so hell bent on insisting that people are insulting us because they are not a part of our world?
For one minute – think of this:
When I say the word, “model” – What image comes to your mind?
When I say the word, “teacher” – What image comes to your mind?
When I say the word, “Olympic athlete” – What image comes to your mind?
We all have ideas and stereotypes in our head. You know and I know it. So, we (runners) expect non-runners to know that all runners are in all shapes and sizes? Of course, men are out to get us and we have to SHAME them for allegedly shaming us. (good grief)
To my fellow bloggers who continually LOVE to point out how much MEN shame them. I say this. Aren’t you tired of always complaining and pointing out the wrongs in other people? If you want to change the image of women, you feel you must degrade men? Where is your energy? Lifting women up or insulting men? Your actions speak very loud and the community has listened.
I am embarrassed and I am sorry that certain bloggers have taken it upon themselves to shame men or even women who are not their own size or ideal of what you think an athlete is. Yeah, you are shaming (I posted about this earlier) I firmly believe that not one gender is better than the other. Period. I don’t believe in “Women Empowerment” I believe in “Humanity Empowerment”.
My self-worth is not tied up in what others say to me (and I have heard a lot of insults over the years and I have also heard lots of praise). Of course, there are jerks in this world who don’t have a kind word to say about anyone. Why do you care? That is their issue, not yours. I have battled such severe depression I was in the hospital and then outpatient therapy for 16 months in the 1990’s. I learned then and know, now – my self worth is within me, not outside sources.Not everyone is out to get us (women). Not everyone is commenting on our body. Maybe you are the one who has the issues, not the people you think are insulting you. Just because you have body issues, doesn’t mean every woman has issues. As I have said before, there are aspects of my body I don’t like, but I don’t HATE my body.
Empowerment is not gender specific and until you realize that your body is not your image, only a carrier of your heart and soul, you will struggle with who you are. It took me years to realize this and now, I am fine with my body and do what I can when I can. I won’t put your worth or my worth in your body, by doing so I would be contributing to the very thing I would preach against = using my body perception to encourage women to feel better about themselves. How about we encourage women not by what they wear or body size? How about we encourage by leading them to be an active member of society? How about we encourage by leading them to be a better version of themselves not dependent on their body size or what under garments they wear?
Be fearless in all you do in life.
That my friends, is authentic strength.
Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV