So there I was. Walking into the change room, in tight spandex-y yoga pants no less, psyching myself up for my very first 90 minute hot yoga class, minding my own business, and then ...
"I've just joined [insert diet company of choice - I refuse to advertise them] with all of my friends because I mean, enough is enough and we've all got to lose weight" says girl considerably thinner than me #1.
And WABAM! WABAM!
"I knnnooowwww. I keep hoping to sweat my fat off!" says girl considerably thinner than me #2.
Their conversation went on in this direction, as I tried in vain to quell the uprising of the body crap that had begun to swirl around me. I notice my hips and my thighs in spandex in a way that I hadn't when I walked in. My negative body thoughts escalated, and instead of walking into my class feeling centred and gearing up for the challenge ahead of me, I walked in thinking about my body. How it looked to others. How it looks to me. How I wish it were different. Yup. and Yuck.
This is only one of the many, many such experiences I've had like this in the past little while. Women LOVE to share their body shit. Their fat-apologisms. Their self-hatin'. Because somehow, if we say it out loud, we can be forgiven for the sins of our body imperfections (and here I will note, our body fat in particular).
And so womens, wimmins, lady-folks, grrrls, yoga-change-room ladies - I'm calling your asses out. You need to stop. We ALL need to stop.
Why, you ask? I'm going to tell you.
Your body 'confessions,' your fat-hating self-talk, your, oh-my-thighs, your oh-the-calories, your public pleas for imperfection-forgiveness or commiseration, or whatever it is you're looking for? That shit is seriously selfish.
Don't get me wrong. I fully support the right of women to do what they wish with their bodies. You want to go on a diet for your own well-considered reasons? Give 'er. You want to change your body? Do what you need to do. I'm happy for you. I really, really, really am. The thing of it is, I don't want to hear about it in a fat-hating way. I just don't. Because it feels pushy. It feels a little bit violent. It gnaws away at my hard-fought and very very tenuous body acceptances. Because it just. feels. gross.
We live in a world where no matter how hard we try, no matter how politicized, informed, and conscious about fat-phobia we become, all of our tetherhooks into that slippery mountain of body kindness and awareness and yes *love*, are so so so conditional. They shift, they slip, they fall out, we throw them back in and try to start climbing up again. It's tiring. It's frustrating. That mountain is fucking steep. For all of us.
We ALL have body shit, yo. Because we're women-people and because we live in this world that hates women-people and reduces us in very particular ways to bodies of very particular kinds. And rarely do we consider the impact of our negative body talk on those around us. Rarely do we think, huh, if I unload the body shit I'm feeling on this person beside me, or loudly in the middle of a public change room full of naked, vulnerable people, I may well be pulling out one of their tetherhooks (or both!) and sending them down the freaking mountain again. And it's a long fucking way down.
I'm happy to talk to my friends and loved ones about grappling with their own body stuff, or to share. On the days that I can. On the days when this isn't likely to send my own tenuous grasp on okayness willy-nilly and off-kilter and into a giant tailspin. And on the days these things feel alright to them/
So how - how are we to deal with the incredible prevalence of body-hating talk around us? I don't know, exactly. I've been as guilty of it as others. And it's so so ingrained in our girl-rhetoric. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be able to ask for support.
I am saying that after thinking about this for the past few weeks, I will try very very hard to never again talk about my own body issues with anyone before first checking with them if they are in an okay space to hear it. Because I don't want to create body-hating, fat-shaming toxicity into the air around me. I don't want to throw the amazing and fucking gorgeous women in my life under that bus. I don't want to leave the strangers in some change room heading into a tough-ass yoga class more anxious about the way their body looks than gathering the internal strength to make it through 90 minutes of yoga in 40-fucking degree heat.
So I guess what I'm asking here, lovelies - is to think- to think before we speak, to think of when we speak, and to think about to whom we speak about our body shit. Because it would be so so so so decadently and beautifully wonderful if the only internalized hate we had to deal with was our own.
We can talk about our fabulous workouts without talking about fat-hate. We can talk about our new amazing recipes without talking about fat hate. We can talk about making diet changes without talking about fat hate.
We really, really, really can.