Posts in body shaming
Target Has Arrived, But Have We?
working on laptop at creekside.png

 

I happen to be shopping there one day trying not to overspend and not really paying too much attention until something caught my eye. It was a top that I thought was particularly cute. Then, my eye caught a few more tops until it ended at the mannequin’s display of more cute pieces. Upon closer inspection I had come to realize that the mannequin wasn’t some weird postured skinny version of a woman. It was more like….well, my size. Then my view widened and I began looking at all the posters in the ads too. They were all normal sized women throughout the store. Have you noticed?

 

Is size cultural?

 

You bet it is.

I’ve just recently come back from a short stint in LA and had run into a woman in a bathroom as we were shopping for food to eat and she started off the conversation by stating a claim, “Your butt is HUGE!” I looked at her and said, “Excuse me?” As I’m trying to figure out where she’s going with this, she continues: “How do you get it to look like that?” I still don’t have an answer, because, you guessed it, I have no idea where she’s going with this. “It’s phenomenal!” Bingo! I see. Now we have a direction.

I sincerely thought this was a joke. We are in LA, right? Were there cameras somewhere? Are there cameras everywhere? Was she an actress practicing her craft? What in the world? Is she crazy?

In an instant I unexpectedly went into a giggle fit. I hadn’t engaged in conversation with her, but now I really couldn’t. So I left, knee deep in my giggle fit as she followed me talking about my butt! I was mortified. I finally shook her loose as I ran towards my husband as if he’d be able to prevent this scenario. She walks past me wearing a sheepish grin.

Then I started thinking, had I been someone who wanted to be skinny, I would be devastated at the thought of having a large anything. So, because of my culture, it was almost permissible, even a compliment for her to tell me my butt was big.

Generally Latinas and Blacks tend to like a smaller waist, bigger hips and thighs.

I have had people make that comment to me in my self-conscious youth. I’d have to say that back then, I definitely would have been devastated considering my mindset.

 

Confessions

 

I was having a conversation with someone who knew upon my meeting her that I was a personal trainer. She had already “should-ed” all over herself before I had met her.

“I should lift weights,” “ I should exercise, but I hate exercise…”  along with numerous other stories of her intense hatred for working out. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “does she really hate exercise or does she just not know what she likes to do?” That is possible, you know. A lot of times people just do what they think is exercise and tend to associate it with being inside a gym, or lifting weights etc. The best exercise is the one you will do. It’s good for your health to do something, but start first with something you like & enjoy & the rest will take care of itself. Pretty soon, you begin to make it intentional.

I told her that I thought she looked rather slender and she says to me, “The only thing I heard you say, was slender. In my world, the skinnier, the better. If I could be see through, I would. In my world, skinny is beautiful.” Her reaction seemed visceral.

I was intrigued, because skinny in my world is not a kind thing to say about a woman. I’d never be mistaken for skinny, and I don’t want to be. I mean I want to look good in my clothes, feel good in my skin and look good in my video demos, but skinny is not something I dream to achieve. For some women it truly is. I will confess that it did take me some time to arrive there (come to this conclusion, to feel this way about myself) and there’s still some work to do, but overall that is my truth. I did feel the pressure to look like everyone else, or who I thought people wanted me to look like as someone in my industry. But trying to be something you’re not is just too painful.

 

The current conundrum

 

As of the time I’m writing this article, we are in an age of scolding those that body shame and increasing self-acceptance. I think this is great and has been a long time coming.

Where we start to push the envelope a little bit I believe is when women tend to border or cross over into obesity and then label is it as “self-acceptance”. This is my own personal opinion.

Two people come to mind when I think about this Star Jones and Monique. They were both very vocal about being large and fabulous when they were obese, and then later recanted and made attempts to reduce their size (both successfully).

Star Jones, opted for gastric bypass while Monique did it the good ol’ fashioned way with diet and exercise.

I got into an incredibly interesting discussion with one of my clients about the way women feel about themselves and their bodies. This got me thinking about how many differing stages women have been through regarding bodies over many, many decades.  

For some reason, Twiggy comes to mind.  Remember Twiggy? She was the one who set off the trend of being so thin.  

I wanted to look into it a little bit deeper.  So I did. By end the of our conversation we both agreed that if women gave less a f*ck about what others think about us, it would make our lives so much easier. After that admittance came another confession; That not caring what others think is very difficult to do. 

In addition to that, we are very affected by what we see in the age we are living, whether we know it, or believe it. So we try to fit into the mold of our current times.

Here's a  very brief & interesting  history lesson about women's bodies and trends;  

 

Venus of Willendorf BCE

Venus

Venus

 

She was the first “official” standard of beauty founded by an archaeologist in 1908.  This is one of the few figurines of the female figure to survive this time period. Childbearing and voluptuousness is apparently emphasized.  There have been lots of speculation about the symbolism of such things on this figurine about the breasts, the facelessness, her over abundance.  I’m leaving out the professional speculation of this figurine in this article for the sake of letting you form your own opinion about her. There really is not a whole lot of information about her except the time period she came from.  Everything else written is professional speculation, and we can do that ourselves. Right? We can look at her ourselves and form our own speculation about what was important in that era.

1910:  The idea feminine body type was the figure 8 (think Beyonce). The proper term  for this era is the Gibson Girl look.  It was termed the Gibson Girl look because a guy by that name, Charles Dana Gibson decided that that look should be the standard of beauty. The caucasian female standard of beauty. These were pen and ink illustrations from this artist that spanned the twenty year period between the 19th and early 20th century.  She was portrayed as a fragile and voluptuous woman who had large bust and hips & buttocks, was not vulgar or lewd. She had a thin long neck and hair piled on top of her head. She was statuesque and had a very small waist. Stylish and of the upper class society. She was confidently poised, athletic, sharply dressed, independent, calm, and sought her own personal fulfillment.  She was also sexually dominant and if standing next to her, men appeared to be simpletons, bumblers and most likely couldn’t provide her with satisfaction.

 

1920’s: The Flapper Girl Look

The Flapper Girl Look

The Flapper Girl Look

In this era, women cut off all their hair, hiked up their skirts and listened to jazz music. They wore excessive make up, were considered brash, drank (alcohol),    smoked and had sex in a casual manner. The slang word for “flap” was used to describe a young prostitute as early as 1631. Flappers were slender in their build, had boyish hips and started to become a  little more masculine in their expression of style. They took men’s suits, tailored them to their slender bodies and added shoulder pads. The flapper girl is also synonymous with the automobile because it was during this time that more automobiles were becoming available and this meant more freedom for this flapper girl. Cars meant that the flapper girl could come and go as she pleased.  Flapper girls promoted the ideals of fulfillment and freedom where women were encouraged to think independently about their garments, careers and social activities.

 

1930’s The Soft Siren

The Soft Siren Look

The Soft Siren Look

 

This look became less boxy, the waist re-appeared again, slender shoulders were back and the silhouette was more fitted.  Bustlines were a little more accentuated as well as more curvature. This look was saucy, sassy and the attitude mimicked that of the Flapper Girl look.

 

1940’s The Star Spangled Look

 

Pointy bras emerged with names like “torpedo” and “bullet”, and back style are the broad and boxy shoulders yet again.  Squarer silhouettes, taller and longer limbs and more commanding attitudes. Women continued to expand their roles into the workforce.  

The Star Spangled Look

The Star Spangled Look

 

1950’s Hourglass.

1950's hourglass.jpg

 

 

Think Jessica Rabbit.  In this era skinny women were advised to take weight gain supplements. The ideal at this time was a tiny waist and large chest.  

 

1960’s The Twig.

Twiggy

Twiggy

 

Narrow, boyish hips were the order of the day.  Fact: Twiggy was 5’6” and weighed all of 91 pounds!  This was the era where she made gaunt famous and trendy.  In steps Weight Watchers to help us all lose the weight from our voluptuousness to jump on the Twiggy trend.  

 

1970’s The Dancing Queen.

The Dancing Queen Trend

The Dancing Queen Trend

 

Bell bottoms, long and lean dancing queens.  Dr. Robert Atkins begins the low-carb revolution.  The tall order of the day was to maintain the flat bellies, slimmer hips to be able to rock the bell bottom, belly exposing pants in addition to rocking the less forgiving fabrics of the hip hugging long disco dresses.  This is also the year that Beverly Johnson was crowned first black super model and donned the cover of Vogue magazine.

 

1980’s The Supermodel Look

supermodel look.jpg

 

So, somehow in this era, we were supposed to get taller as the standard had become leaner, leggier, to represent the new feminine ideal. Think Elle MacPerson, Naomi Campbell. These women are close to 6 foot or taller. Jane Fonda also made leg warmers and leotards a thing and muscles began to be acceptable and desirable on women.  As if?! Why do we need permission from anybody to look the way we want?

 

1990’s The Waif

The Waif Look - Kate Moss

The Waif Look - Kate Moss

 

Sir Mix a lot became the anthem as retaliation to the drug induced waif look. “I like BIG BUTTS and I cannot lie! You other brothers can’t deny!”   Grungy and drugs were cool. Think Kate Moss, or the druggie look. Women were still reeling from the Twiggy look trying to be as slim as possible. Spanx starts to make some traction because by now we’ve started dieting and unknowingly damaging our metabolisms, so the diets stopped working so we turned to Spanx to suck in what we couldn’t diet off.

 

 

2000’s The Buff Beauty

2000's Toned Look

2000's Toned Look

Spray tans and visible abs.  Now we are well on our way to hiring personal trainers for some muscle tone and even though we got rid of the pale look of the drugged up heroin addict look. At least we are mindful of our skin where we make sure to get an artificial tan so as not to damage our skin.  

 

2010 The Booty Babe

Nicki Minaj 

Nicki Minaj 

Butts, butts, butts, booties, booties and more booties.  And I’m not talking about the baby kind. It’s all about the bass and no treble.  

As I was doing the research for this, all I could think of was “Embrace.”  As women we must embrace what we’ve been gifted with. It’s what all women should do.  

JLo has been accused of starting the bigger butt trend.  Instead of trying to look like her, be like her and get butt transplants etc, we should have observed that she just simply embraced her assets.  

Many moons ago, I was watching an interview with JLo.  I can’t remember the question, but what I do remember was her saying that when she was a young dancer she looked around and saw how thin all the other dancers were. She knew she couldn’t compete on that level and she didn’t want to that thin,  so she said she took a long hard look in the mirror and started looking for something that would set her apart from everyone else. She turned around and looked at her butt and said to herself, “It’s my ASS!” The rest is history. She simply embraced it.  It’s not her butt we want, it’s her confidence and her ability to embrace who she is and her ASSets.

 






 

 

MY 14 RULES FOR SPIN CLASS ETIQUETTE
AN ACTUAL SHOT FROM MY SPIN CLASS.  PHOTO CRED: DAVID ALESHIRE

AN ACTUAL SHOT FROM MY SPIN CLASS.  PHOTO CRED: DAVID ALESHIRE

Okay, so I think some things should be common sense in most fitness classes, but you've heard the saying, "Common sense isn't so common anymore." 

These rules don't necessarily have to be a Spin class per se as I use in these etiquette rules here, and it can certainly pertain to any group fitness class. 

For the bulk of my career (and enjoyment really) I spend a great deal of time teaching fitness classes.  I get that everyone couldn't possibly like me, but teaching group fitness classes, especially Spin classes is a true joy for me. 

Even with that in mind, there are a few things that still really get into my craw in the worst way as I am sure you have things in your profession that do the same for you. 

I've comprised a list of these things and if you spend, or have spent any amount of time as a student, you may have noticed these things too. 

Here goes:

1.  If you have to leave early, please let the instructor know.  I don't want to know why necessarily, but please say something BEFORE the class begins even if I'm harried and walk into the door right on the button. 

Here, maybe an explanation might help:

  • First and foremost, I worry about your safety.  If you hop off the bike in the middle of class, then you'd be surprised how much I worry about you having left so abruptly.  Many times I have chased someone down who've left unexpectedly to make sure they are ok.  I don't do this that much anymore b/c most people are regulars and say something before class even starts (which I sooooooooooo appreciate!).

 

  • In most Spin classes these days,  there is this thing we Spin in called darkness?  We have black lighting, mind you, but mostly it's pretty dark in there (& yes oddly, I can still see you).  When you open the door to the main floor, there is this other thing that seeps in called light?  Yeah, that!  It can be V-E-R-Y distracting to those other entities in the class we call people?  Oh, did you think you were the only one who was showing up that day?  If not, then please don't act like it. 

 

  • This is really NOT about me as hard as that seems to believe.  This is a genuine disruption to my other clients in the class and I promise you, they do say something to me about it.  Had you let me know ahead of time, I could have positioned you in the class where you can leave with barely anyone noticing. 

While I certainly empathize that your time is important TO YOU, the rest of us are pretty much in the same boat, so if you leave early for something as silly as wanting to get into the shower early.....

.....like I said, I don't really need to know why, but I would sure appreciate you saying something.

Please and Thank you! 

 

2.  I understand you wanting to come in and take a class with your friends (I really do), I do NOT appreciate you gabbing through the first song or any song for that matter...and neither does anyone else.  I assure you. 

Here's a few clues that it's time to shut up:

  • I inch up the volume on the music. 
  • I inch up the volume some more.  
  • I inch up the volume on my microphone. 
  • I get off my bike and approach you and ask, "Is there anything I can help you with?"
  • I blatantly tell you it's time to shut up and get connected. 

Look for these clues.

Please and Thank you. 

3.  You come to class and don't do a thing I tell you to do. 

I don't get this?  What are you doing?  Are you being rebellious?  Do you not like the songs?  Seriously, what's your point?  I am always truly baffled by this. 

I don't mean that you stay in the saddle the whole time while the rest of the class is going on around you- I get that if you're tired and need to go your own pace, I mean while we are doing jumps, you are in hand position 3 on a hill that looks as if you have your house dragging behind you.  

If my Spin class is in your way, then you need to find a time when that room is empty and Spin your little heart out to your own drummer, just don't do it in my class.  (I hope this goes without saying that going your own pace does NOT apply.  Keep in mind that Spinning is a self-paced activity...and I'm all about the modifications). 

4.  When asked to add resistance, you reach down and touch your resistance knob without adding any resistance.  Let me repeat that, because I think it bears repeating, you....reach down.....and.....just....touch the knob. 

What does this do exactly?  You're certainly not fooling me and it would be tragic if you think you're fooling yourself.  I will say this, as I say it allthe time, "You're only cheating yourself...".  Period.  So, hey, if that's how you wanna roll, (pun intended) then knock yourself out, but it is a waste of your precious time and makes that shower pretty useless that you're leaving us early for as you barely broke a sweat.  Just sayin'. You ain't foolin' nobody.

5.  You bring your cell phone in with you and text or look through it while I'm teaching.  *SIGH*  Ok, this is definitely one of those things about common sense that I just shouldn't have to explain to you.  It's just rude, rude, rude.  If you are so important that you could not sit in a class for 45 minutes to an hour without saving the world, then you probably should not be there to begin with.  If you're too important for a measly Spin class, then just don't come.  You're not hurting my feelings.

Please and Thank you.

Plus, you need some time for YOU.  Give at least that to yourself for unwinding.  You're so much better off for it.

The only exception I have ever made to this and certainly did not mind, was a wife who was stressed out because her husband was in Iraq and she knew about the time he was going to call, but wasn't sure, so she ASKED IF IT WAS OKAY, that she take her cell phone with her and leave it on, on her handlebars so she wouldn't miss his call.  She had heard about my class and had wanted to come and 'Spin her anxiety away because she felt like she was going to go cray cray, if she didn't' (her words not mine). 

                          Now THAT is a considerate person. 

6.  You come into class and wear your own headset!  I have to be honestand let you know that I will just come and ask that you leave. I don't think there's much more to say about that one. C'mon now.

I must say that most people take it off once the music starts, so it's very rare that I need to say anything.  

7.  You're a Spin instructor and you bring in your "crew"(of one) to take my class and you try to show your "crew" (of one) that, 'I ain't all that' by conducting your own private Spin class on the back 2 bikes! 

Hmmmmmm...  Is it just me, or does this seem really dumb?  Sometimes I wonder if I'm being too hard on people.  Ummmmm, no.  This is dumb.  Really dumb.  TAKE THEM TO YOUR OWN CLASS!  Go show off there. 

Please and Thank you.

Green stench

8.  You ate something that does not agree with you and you, along with the rest of us have to regret that thing you ate, that you know you shouldn't of eaten especially before a Spin class, and so during the stretch portion of the program, you let 'er rip and a green fog fills the Spin room that can annihilate a small country. 

While I don't want to discourage you from coming to my class for this reason, because we've all been there whether we admit to it or not, I do have an awesome suggestion: 

Hold off on your cheat day until AFTER my Spin class. 

Please and Thank you. 

9.  You yell out songs at me like I'm some DJ at a dance club in a booth,  with my DJ headphones on, living to fulfill your requests. Really?

The only suggestion I have for this is that you just wait to be invited for requests.  THEN, I don't mind it.  When I conduct a class, I most likely come with a set agenda.  I don't usually deviate too terribly unless it looks like mostly everyone is in a slump.

Don't get me wrong, I'm always open to suggestions if you'd like to discuss it with me after class for music you'd like to share with me that you would more than likely hear on my next playlist.  I'm all about the music.    

10.  You don't wipe your bike down and put it back the way you found it as if the club's cleaning crew is going to come and make it all go away.   

Let's walk you through it:

If you're leaving giant puddles underneath your bike, do you really think it's okay to leave it there?  Be honest.  You've sweat, slobbered, and grunted your way through my class on this bike, and you really don't have the decency to wipe up after yourself?  Is that okay in your world?    If it is, then never mind.  It's your world then, we're all just livin' in it. 

Take your sweat with you.

Please and Thank You. 

11.  Do not flip the light on or off unless invited to do so by the instructor. Like with everything I always have an agenda.  I like to do things gradually and let people settle in and gradually cool down.  Going and running to the light switches and flipping everything on just because you're ready to go like there's been a bomb threat is selfish and annoying.  There I said it.  Don't do this. 

Please and Thank you.  

12.  DO. NOT.  I repeat, DO. NOT..... go to the instructor's area and switch the song, turn down the volume, turn on the fans or any other asinine thing in this arena.  Who do you think you are anyway?

This would be the equivalent of me going up to you, taking your water bottle from the holder and taking a swig from it and handing it back to you.  DON'T DO IT!  It's NOT okay.  It is my property and my class.  I don't care how friendly and jovial I seem to you. 

13. You blow your nose into the hand towels.  First of all, this is just plain gross.  Don't blow your nose into any hand towels unless you bring your own and are responsible for washing it yourself.  It doesn't sound like such an appealing idea now does it?  If you don't want to take it all the way back to your house, knowing full well that it's full of your very own snot and boogeriness, then what makes you think that the cleaning crew wants to deal with that?   (Blecht.)

Ask me for some tissue please.  I always keep them handy on the instructor stand.  If they're not there, you know I don't mind making a special trip to get you something to blow your nose in that we can dispose of in the trash.  (Eeew.) 

Please and Thank You.

14.  Don't ask me to turn down my music.  Someone might get themselves hurt in this situation, and it won't be me.  I hate, hate, hate (and that's a strong word for me), this request.  Not only is it part of my agenda and atmosphere, but it just makes me think you have some sense of entitlement here.  My goodness.  Go to another class where you can hear a gnat fart because the music is so low, I will not be offended. 

...and before you think I don't care about your hearing, you need to know that I have ear plugs for this situation.  Everyone who knows me and has taken my class knows that by now.  Even if you didn't know, if you ask me to turn down my music (and you're new), I will just hand you some ear plugs.  It does not offend me to ask for them and I do my best to make you comfortable - within reason.  I have been told that you can actually hear me better with them in. 

...and cut the crappy sermon about loud music destroying your hearing. It's not the time and place for it.   You would have to be exposed to the loud source of 85 decibels* or higher for a period of 8 hours or more on a continual basis.   My spin classes are 45 minutes to 1 hour and I'm pretty sure you would not want to do 8 hours of Spin with me.

I do get my hearing checked every year (and it never changes), so if this is a concern of yours you should do the same.  Take the proper precautions that makes you happy (which can include you not showing up AT ALL), or just ask me for the ear plugs. 

Please and Thank you. 

There you have it, 14 of Velma's Spin Etiquette rules.  You've been fairly warned.

Please and Thank You!

*85 decibels is somewhere between the sound of a vacuum cleaner to the sound of a lawn mower