“I thought that you’d be more sinewy as a yoga teacher”, he said to me straight in the eye.
“Sinewy?”, I ask. “As in more toned?”.
He nods, as if that was obvious.
So just to clarify, the relatively new man in my life who had just whisked me off for a dream of a trip, whom I had shared intimacies with, is now telling me that he thought I’d be more toned for a yoga teacher.
In what world is this ever ok?
We often look to the media or the fashion industry for someone to blame when it comes to body shaming, but sometimes it can be a lot closer to home, and we don’t even realise the damage it’s doing before it too late.
Every day of my working life, I have to stand up in front of people, with my body up for judgement. My life work is reflected in my body and up until this moment I had been quite proud of it.
I had healed from a significant back injury and was sitting at a healthy weight, without any body consciousness at the age of 44 (the age I was at the time), and I hadn’t really given much thought to how I compared to the Kardashians.
Yet here I was being told by a man close to 50 that perhaps I’d be more successful if I followed the model of a Personal Trainer he knew who had a huge following on Instagram.
“It’s all about the Kardashian bum now. That’s what people are aspiring to”.
For the first time in my life, I am feeling my rear end to be inadequate.
So in the space of ten minutes I’m feeling a bit flabby with a flat arse.
Up until this point this man had seemed charming, kind, thoughtful and intelligent. So perhaps he had a point?
I look back now and I want to kick myself.
Since then I dropped over a stone in weight, I started to get anxious about being in front of people, thinking they were all judging me in the same way.
I went from confidence in my body to feeling shameful about it, it was like a silent poison within me that was growing and literally eating me up.
On the outside I was trying to stand up for myself:
“I’m not interested in posing in a bikini on Instagram, it’s not about that for me”, as I try to defend my size 8 figure.
Yet me saying “it’s not OK to say that to a woman”, that’s me “kicking off”. I’m “too sensitive”, “took it the wrong way”, “making a big deal out of nothing”.
This is where the damage is done. We know it’s not ok, but we are being told our reactions are wrong. We start to question ourselves instead, we start to take the blame for “over-reacting”.
I’m sure I’m not the only woman to have suffered this kind of body shaming, subtle yet insidious as it is. I won’t be the last sadly, but as I head off tomorrow to present at the WOW (Women of the World) festival in Exeter, I’ll be standing proud in my own body again, and I’ll be making sure to send the message out loud and clear to the other women (and men) in my class.
“You’re ok just as you are!”.
Don’t let anyone tell you any different, and if you come across someone who does and who, instead of apologising makes you feel bad for standing up for yourself, run. Run away as fast as you can, and never look back.
Sent from my iPhone