It was the summer of 2015 when I officially got onto Instagram. I had started my Youtube channel Let's Veg About It a few months earlier, which also inspired this website since I wanted to start expanding my media presence. I was hesitant at first because as we all know the media can be quite cruel and unforgiving, but I had to remember that the media can never define who I am. Or can it?
As I began swiping through the Instagram feed, I kept seeing so many beautiful thin women. Before I even realized it, I started to question whether I was attractive. Luckily, I built enough callouses to bounce back from the thought due to my earlier years of struggling with self-esteem and weight issues.
Most people who remember me, knew me as thin and athletic. I don’t deny it, but how one may look and how one feels in their skin doesn’t always coincide. Unfortunately, I grew up with people constantly commenting on my appearance.
Their words were so cancerous, I became bulimic and anorexic for about a year.
Fortunately, God was merciful to me and sent some wonderful, encouraging people in my life, who helped change my perspective. Eventually, I found a way out of this toxic mindset. But what about our young people? Are they not also assailed with ideals?
Today, isn’t any different. Our society has an unhealthy relationship with weight.
We are bombarded with “skinny” models. I’m not trying to bag on “skinny” people, I understand that some of you are blessed with these genes, I included. However, it irritates me to see a skinny model posing for a gym ad that looks like she’s never lifted a single dumbbell in her life, manipulating our society to think, this is the ideal look, when it shouldn’t.
Being in the fitness industry, I see that this obsession among women to be “skinny” has come at a huge price for some. Resorting to unhealthy dieting pills or ridiculous eating habits just for the sake of losing inches on the waist. It is vital that we start changing the mantra for the next generation. It shouldn’t be about our belt size, but whether we are capable of putting on a belt. It shouldn’t be about being able to fit in a size 2, but whether we can lift more than two grocery bags to our car. It shouldn’t be about being able to run 10km, but whether we can run around with our loved ones.
Strong should be the new skinny.
And strength has nothing to do with weight.
Strength is built by working our muscles. Ladies, stop being afraid of muscles! I never forgot my friend's reaction in high school when I flexed my biceps after having been in ROTC for a few months. She was so repulsed. This is a terrible stigma that needs to change ladies. Muscles are beautiful. And weights are NOT our enemies. Our minds are.
Weights won’t turn you into the Hulk. It is physiologically impossible unless you use supplements or have a genetic make up that causes that, which is very rare to say the least. Weights will strengthen you and enable you to keep doing the things you enjoy in life, which is better than starvation and living in a body that is constantly frail.
Overcoming these emotional barriers in regards to weight is difficult, I have been there, but I think we need to start looking at weight in a different light.
We often emphasize empowering women to be mentally strong and helping them to overcome mental stresses or emotional traumas. How about empowering our women to be physically strong? It isn’t any different and the results are just as rewarding. So, let’s start doing that.
Let strong be the new skinny.