Go Easy on the Bod

Two recent articles about body image have got me thinking…

Gawker has a piece about a recent, unflattering photo of Gerard Butler, he of the razor-sharp, 300 abs. “‘Gerard Butler packs some paunch on his Barbados holiday as his Spartan muscles become a distant memory,’ says the U.K.’s Daily Mail.” The article muses that perhaps we’re seeing the end of the double-standard in Hollywood: men will now be held to the same unrealistic, potentially unsustainable standards as women. We’ll see about that.

Sociological Images has a thought-provoking post about a woman who felt liberated by her ability to strip naked with a man. The bloggers at SI weren’t upset by her revelation but by the imagery she chose to accompany it. You can read the whole post here.

My favorite part of the post came at the end:

What kind of message does it send when she trashes her body.  She must think most of the population is hideous.  We all need to stop trashing our bodies in front of one another, there’s just-about-always someone who ends up feeling worse because they compare their own body to the self-trasher and feel like they don’t measure up even to the body being disparaged.  Enough.

I’m often conflicted about posting before and after photos for that very reason. One on hand, who doesn’t want to trumpet about their improvements – and who hasn’t looked at a photo and thought, “Dang! I really don’t look so good there.” But on the other, could the bat with which we’re bashing ourselves inadvertently knock someone else down, too?

A few days ago, I found some old photos of myself taken during the Wildflower Half Ironman Triathlon. I considered posting them here, but decided against it. I was appalled at how puffy and old I looked in the photos… and that meant I totally neglected to acknowledge that puffy, old-looking body actually FINISHED the Half Ironman that day. That chubby little body carried me through a 1.25-mile swim, 50-mile bike ride, and 13-mile run. Seems kinda cruel to mock it, doesn’t it? And crueler still to post it so someone else can bludgeon themselves with it.

I’m really warming up to the idea that public body bashing is unseemly. I’m going to aim for a kinder, gentler approach to my own body assessments and challenge y’all to do the same. My body works hard for me and does the best it can; I’m going to (try to) cut it a little slack.

Toward that end, I’m going to start adopting some of the techniques outlined in this Weightless post. Some of it is a little groovy for me and makes my über practical side want to mock. But the notion that once we accept ourselves, we can truly become our best selves seems right to me.

It’s not about changing yourself rather than getting to know yourself better and becoming clear on your values and desires.  When you are in this state of happiness and ownership of who you are then you begin to radiate the life that you desire.

See? A little groovy, but nice, too.

Our Precious Bodies

We had some friends over for dinner a few nights ago, and the conversation meandered to a discussion of if, as conventional wisdom holds, "things...

Read More
Tuesday 10: Excellent Body Image Posts

Why is thinner better? I've been asking myself that question for months, as I struggle with the realization that since I had my thyroid removed...

Read More


  • Stephanie Vincent says:

    that weightless pose was great! I feel the same conflict about posting my before and after photos (i did recently, despite that conflict). I think my results are proof that loving and accepting & living in the present moment bring reward (without effort). I want to make sure sharing those results reinforces that rather than our culture of negative body images. I will definitly be thinking more on this.

  • Stephanie Vincent says:

    I share the conflict about before and after photos (despite that conflict i posted them recently). I think I ultimatly decided to do so because they are direct evidence of what accepting and loving yourself can bring. Not just results that are pleasant, but results that cam with Joy rather than sacrifce, with ease instead of struggle. I still fill a little confused about this issue, to be honest.

  • Barbara says:

    Holy smokes! A half Ironman Tri too? Pretty damn impressive.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Stephanie, it *is* a tricky issue, and I find myself returning to the before/after photos question a lot. It's very difficult to present before photos in anything but a "bad" light when, in truth, the before/after/during/current/future photos all need to be seen as part of a continuous spectrum of living. We live, We eat, We workout… and sometimes we don't… that's life. And it seems unduly harsh to deem any stage in life "bad" or wholly "good."

    But the photos are compelling. So I think the PRESENTATION of them — the context, the language — is really important.

  • Anonymous says:

    sorry about the double post!!

    I think GOOD & BAD are words that should be abolished from our vocabulary for all things!

    had to post this anonymous..blogger being tempermental!
    Stephanie Vincent

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Blogger can be so NAUGHTY!

    Stephanie, it can be SO hard not to go to "bad" and "good." I hear the words coming out of my mouth, and I want to grab, throw them on the floor, and stomp the life out of them.

    ME = work in progress

  • Stephanie Vincent says:

    I'm with you…box jumps on good & bad all around.

    I especially work on not telling my daughter "you are bad" or "be a Good girl". I think those wordds are apart of how our self-images get so f uped!

    ME= A work in progress!

    BTW…one of my radical woman Q&A is gonna be with the writer od Weightless! 🙂 So excited there are so many of us waging war on the culture of self-hate!

  • Steph H says:

    It's so interesting how we are conditioned to look at things so critically. You write about this so well. Seriously, you FINISHED an Ironman and yet you focus on how you looked in the pictures? I am the same way and am really working on "seeing" myself differently. We are so conditioned to be like that and I think the reality is people want to see the before and after to give themselves encouragement and hope and I agree it's how you present those pics that's key. Great post!