Today’s Read: Our Bodies and Movement

How’s your relationship with body movement? Let’s chat in the comments!

This piece (“7 Ways to Heal Your Relationship with Exercise and Movement” by Louise Green) brings up a lot of stuff for me, and I have a feeling I’m not even close to alone. Can you relate?

First, my painful relationship with movement starts all the way back in elementary school. I distinctly remember hating gym class in the second grade. It wasn’t because I hated moving. It was because the cool, rich, mean kids dominated the class and had a lot to say about me and my body all the way back then. Everything from my hair to my skin was bad. Ah, racism. Even at age seven. It didn’t help that I started my period two years later, and the boobs came in long before anyone else’s did. I went from undesirable to undesirable freak. Fun times.

Second, I BADLY want to develop a course about all-or-nothing/binary thinking. Despite teaching critical thinking for two decades, most of my self-perception operates on binary thinking.

Third, working on body image, my relationship with my body, and my trauma about movement are all things I’m working on in therapy and have been working on for some time. But it took finding my current therapist to start. My first therapist’s attitude toward me and exercise was that I simply needed to get over it and do it. Not helpful. (She was also unable to see beyond her thin privilege. This is why it’s important to remember not all therapists are a good fit for you, but that’s a post for another day.)

Fourth, I’m listening to Billie Eilish’s new album, and I’m wiggling in my chair, which goes to show there is joy in movement.

Fifth, and this is the truly scary one for me . . . I’m starting personal training on August 3rd. This is the first time I’ve attempted movement in front of another person who doesn’t live with me in years. I’m scared and nervous, but I’m hoping my perspective has truly shifted enough to get me going.

Last, that perspective is this: I want to see what my body can do. There’s a lot of fear, anxiety, and doubt attached to that, but you’re coming with me on this, so stay tuned.

Today’s Read: “Why Do Women Hate Their Bodies?”

I appreciate the apparent intentions behind this piece; however, it’s rife with examples as to why it’s so hard to burn diet culture (re: anti-fatness and patriarchy) to the underground. CW: Obesity, eating disorders

First, it’s not that women hate their bodies, as if it’s something we opt to do. It’s that people are influenced to hate their bodies. Always remember the motivation behind unrealistic body portrayals in the media is to sell products. It’s always about capitalism, power, and control. The article acknowledges the role the media plays, but it fails to shift the language away from diet culture nonsense.

Second, it cites examples of improvement in the media away from putting emaciated bodies first, and two of those examples use the BMI as an accurate indicator of health. If you don’t remember, the body mass index is deeply flawed and entrenched in racist, sexist views. It does nothing but measure the ratio of height and weight, which is a two-dimensional equation for three-dimensional bodies with fourth-dimensional (sure, I’m going with it) social and genetic factors.

Third, it makes little effort to recognize that fat is normal.

What I appreciate is its analysis of the media’s role. However, the company behind this website describes itself as “the largest health information property in the U.S.” a.k.a. the media. Y’all. I’M the media too. Websites, blogs, books, magazines, television, radio, music . . . it’s all media. We’re all trying to influence your knowledge. We should be asking what role they play as well. You should be questioning what I’m trying to do! You don’t think I hope to make a buck? (And yes, I have a ton of capitalist guilt, but that’s a post for another day.)

Yet again, we live in a society that puts continued attention on symptoms and never enough on the causes. This article would do a helluva lot more if it asked, “Who made women hate their bodies?”

Rethink Your Mirror or Smash It Like the Patriarchy?

There are three mirrors in my home: two framed by medicine cabinets and one full-length on the back of a bathroom door. I infrequently look in the full-length, but my therapist suggested I needed to do it more as a form of practicing body acceptance.

Yet I want to smash all mirrors (aside from being superstitious). They just create worry for problems with my body I didn’t know were problems until someone told me they were.

So, I ask you: Do we need to rethink our relationships with mirrors? Instead of thinking of them as gateways to what others see, how do we make them tools to appreciate what we see?

What Is Body Justice?

I’m taking this week to talk about my business pivot into body justice, so it’s a little less formal and more writing to think out loud content. That said, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE your feedback on this!

Body Justice

Social justice is a massive topic, and I knew going into it that it was too big a scope for my business. But I wasn’t sure what part of social justice was right for me. I want to leave the door open for discussing race, but I don’t want to be pigeonholed into that because too many people are quick to relegate Brown and Black folks to only talking about race. I want to be an advocate for people with disabilities, but I’m not qualified to teach others on it, and I don’t think it’s my place or story to tell. I have a lot to say about religion, education, politics, and economics and how they influence social expectations, but obviously, there’s a lot there.

What I noticed was a consistent interest in bodies for me. I don’t like how religion drives social demands over our bodies. I loathe how politicians think they have any right to supersede our relationships with our physicians, and I hate how physicians refuse to understand how we know our bodies better than they do. We need our bodies to work in this capitalism economy, but that doesn’t mean employers have say over our bodies even if they provide us health insurance, yet that doesn’t stop them. We have bodily autonomy, and I want to fight for reminding everyone of that.

Hence, body justice.

However . . . the biggest use of body justice I’ve seen so far is, of course, diet culture-loving fitness junkies. So, I’m taking it for my uses.

I’ll take the week to explore some ideas within body justice, so I hope you’ll join me in thinking out loud!

How to Rethink Body Movement

Exercise is body movement. Our bodies need not conform to the fitness industry or diet culture. We can keep it simple:

  • Dance: Nothing formal. Put on that song that makes you move, and move to it even if you’re sitting. My choice: Area by Magnus the Magnus from the iPhone ad.
  • Wiggle: Sometimes, I just wiggle like the Shaq gif.
  • Wave: My friend moves in waves, and it’s beautiful. I had an anxiety attack the other night, got out of bed, sat on my ottoman, and just moved my arms in a Michelle-inspired way.
  • Stretch: I don’t mean follow that list of stretches trainers show you. Hell, even those graphics are centered on fit White dudes. I mean stretch whatever part of your body feels tight.
  • Rest: Maybe your body needs rest over movement. We undervalue rest.

How will you move when you’re ready? Let me know in the comments!

Ten Myths and Rants about Exercise

If you’ve ever been frustrated with exercise, it might be because the fitness and diet industries are full of shit. Here’s my take. You might identify with some of this or think of additional myths. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Myth 1: Exercise is easy.

It fucking isn’t. Y’all don’t get to say, “No pain, no gain,” then tell me it’s easy.

Myth 2: If it’s not easy at first, it gets easier.

So, it’s easy, but it’s not, but it gets easier. But it doesn’t. Like . . . I see people in incredible shape making pained faces as they work out. They look like they’re in agony. That’s easier? If it’s still agony for the fittest of people, HOW DO YOU THINK IT FEELS FOR EVERYONE ELSE?

I love that this the source of this links to a body building website. You’re not helping your own cause. Source: https://gph.is/g/4DA8Gxn

Myth 3: You’ll find the right exercise for you.

Do tell. I’ve tried walking, water jogging, running, treadmills, weight lifting, yoga, ellipticals, team sports, bowling, body weight exercises, yard work, house cleaning, dance, and physical therapy. Everything else feels too much for my body. I’ve yet to find anything I enjoy enough to do regularly. But I’m sure you have solutions.

Myth 4: You just need discipline.

I taught as many as eight college courses at one time, but six was my usual. I have three college degrees and a graduate certificate. I raised my credit score hundreds of points over several years. I’ve self-taught marketing, most social media platforms, and investing. I tracked my calories almost every day for ten years. Yeah. Discipline is my problem.

Source: https://gph.is/g/EqPgAR4

Myth 5: Walking is the easiest exercise.

No. It’s not. First of all, if you have a disability, WALKING MIGHT NOT BE AN OPTION. Second of all, there’s a foot condition that runs in my dad’s family that makes longer walks excruciating. We don’t know what it is. But guess what? I won that lottery! Mine kicked in way younger than anyone else. Walking hurts. I know. I’ve tried. A lot. It takes me several months, the perfect shoes, and a lot of patience to get to a painless walk. And then there’s the anxiety of walking in public as a Brown, fat woman. And the anxiety of walking alone. Just stop.

Myth 6: No pain, no gain.

I’m getting mixed messages here. But beyond that, people started telling me in my 30s that exercise shouldn’t hurt, SO WHICH IS IT?!

Myth 7: If exercise hurts, see your doctor.

lolololol! Yeah, I’ve done that too. The fatphobic medical industry has three solutions: meds, more exercise, and shrugging.

Source: GIS for “doctor shrug”

Myth 8: No one at the gym is judging you.

Bullshit. No one at the gym is judging you to your face. I’ve seen the looks. When I was running at a local Y, there was a window between the walking track and the weight room (why). You better believe I caught people staring at me. I know that quick look away means.

Myth 9: You’re just not trying hard enough.

This is motivating. Thank you. My life is now changed forever.

Myth 10: You’re lazy.

This ↓

Exercise Is Easy and Other Lies

Exercise makes me cry. I don’t mean that in a funny way. I’m serious. It specifically makes me cry to think about my relationship with my body and the pain associated with moving. It’s the primary reason I sought out therapy.

Society: That’s just because you haven’t found the right thing for you yet!

People make working out sound so simple.

Society: Just move! Just go for a walk! Just 30 minutes a day! Just!

I used to do that. I used to run three days a week in my late 30s. People said it would get easier, that I’d experience a runner’s high. It never got easier. I never got the high. I always ended up with numb feet, and I wanted to sleep for the rest of the day.

Society: You should go see your doctor! That’s not normal!

Now, walking up and down my stairs brings me pain because my hip flexors–no matter how much I stretch–are always tight. Going up my stairs takes ten seconds. You want me to go through agony for 30 minutes a day like it’s no big deal?

Society: It’s because you don’t move enough! It’ll get better!

I’m not physically disabled as far as I know, yet the fitness industry seems to think we all have the same bodies that are capable of anything society deems normal. Mine isn’t geared for normal. Beyond that, I have deep, emotional and mental blocks about movement and my body, as evidenced by my intro.

Society: Oh, it’s not that bad! Maybe you’re too fat.

I remember hating physical education as far back as second grade. They wanted us to play basketball with all the other kids in the class. These are the same kids who wouldn’t hesitate to throw a ball at me because they thought it was funny. I wasn’t coordinated (I’m still not), and catching a ball caused a sudden rise of anxiety. I wasn’t athletic. I’ve never been athletic. Both of my parents were active in their younger years, and my dad still is, so I don’t know what happened to me. It always feels like a shortcoming. It always feels like a failure.

Society: Are you sure you aren’t just lazy?

So, this week, I’m going to explore body movement, exercise, working out, and some of the myths surrounding it. Because I’m tired of being treated as broken all because my body doesn’t operate the way our fatphobic society thinks it should.

Society: Geez, you’re full of excuses, aren’t you?

Five Ways . . .

Five ways our fat makes us bad-ass bitches . . .

Five ways your fat makes you a bad ass bitch

  1. We jiggle in magical, mesmerizing waves.
  2. We can warm our hands in our rolls.
  3. We command & demand space.
  4. We prove people wrong by simply existing.
  5. We store more energy & are, literally, a powerhouses.

Fatphobics don’t know what they’re missing, babe.

Love from Whole Damn Woman.