"The contemporary designation of the body as 'meat machine' is merely the latest iteration of a long tradition of self loathing" - Marina Benjamin
I've noticed a thread or should I say, a new 'norm' laced through my Instagram feed recently.
More and more accounts seeing both men and women turn up the heat and drop the clothes. It's -1 outside baby so there's got to be more than meets the scantily clad eye on this new societal norm.
Are we forming a culture defying sexual oppression or are we simply shifting the paradigm of what is 'okay' to post online?
I'd like to start with saying I'm all for progression shots, a lot of my friends work in the fitness industry, I've worked in it myself, and it's part of your portfolio to demonstrate your understanding of the human anatomy and the results in which you can achieve by manipulating different muscles. I also understand the need to share the message of the 'body positivity' movement where people of all shapes and sizes show their love, respect and appreciation for the human body.
Now, I am in no means suggesting we should cover up and shy away from our earthly suits but merely pose the question, can you capture the body (be it male or female) without in someway sexualising it?
In my 20s I dressed to express my sexuality and whilst I didn't know it then, cultivated it as a way to create my own sense of power, yet now in my 30s find myself retreating and in a way, oppressing earlier learned behaviours. I'm still very much redefining what the idea of sexuality means to me as individual and it's something I see a lot in my female clients. The simple truth, is that the majority of us don't feel comfortable or at home in our own bodies. And because of that, we deny ourselves pleasure. We close ourselves off and shut off that part of us leaving those crucial elements in the dark. We don't know anything other than to pound the treadmill, or squat and thrust our way to a tighter, leaner, better looking version of ourselves. And all in the name of 'self love'.
But let me ask you, when you bought into the global trillion dollar industry, did you feel whole? Did that voice inside you soften?
Aside from the multitude of health benefits of daily movement - increased self esteem and body confidence to name but a few - what happens when we fill the self loathing void with another scantily clad form of self loathing?
Here's the thing, you can't hate yourself to a place of love.
I'd like to point out that I'm not suggesting every photo posted in that light comes from a place of hate or self loathing either. You should never feel guilty for wanting to look good, but by doing the inner work alongside, it comes from an entirely different place and energy. A place of respect for yourself and the house in which you live.
I get it. I'm a qualified PT, eating psychology and life coach -
we basically all want the secret pill which allows us to eat the cookie and still look fabulous naked.
I wish people were inspired by mind and spirit as much as they were by bodies and shapes. We should be teaching young men and women movement to build strong minds, learning to cope and navigate their internal landscapes - the by product of that will invariably be one of an outward change too. Emphasising the importance of both feeling and looking good.
Our bodies constantly change as we go through life and when that happens if you've worked on the inner world, along with those strong abs then you'll surround yourself with acceptance, self love and kindness instead of constant punishment, unachievable goals, strict regimes and negative self talk.
Make no mistake, this isn't about being lazy or making excuses. It's about loving yourself to abs, to the bar or to stay at home on a Friday night in pjs. It's about learning to listen to yourself and trusting your own unique wisdom. You've got the blueprint honey, you just need to listen long enough to be guided by yourself. And making decisions from 'that' place just feels infinitely better and more like you than any quick fix 30 day exercise plan, diet fad or juice cleanse.
"I have found that when we stop searching for home within others, other places or other things, it allows us to lift the foundations of home within ourselves and that there are no roots more special than those between a mind and body that have decided to be whole."
- Rupi Kaur