In the couple of days since I first saw this picture, I have had absolute mixed feelings about how I feel about this mother. This, which should be an example of good living, has become so controversial, and I feel torn…..torn about applauding this woman, torn about giving her a verbal tongue lashing, just torn.
This is my blog, my beliefs, my opinion, take it with a grain of salt, but, the creative juices are flowing and they have to come out.
Before I begin on this particular photo, I do want to say that I have friends who are absolute revolutionaries in the fitness world, and I have nothing but the utmost of respect for them, for what they have done, and what they are doing for others. These individuals are incredible souls who have transformed their lives, and are spreading their passion to others…..so ladies a standing ovation for you, this is not about you, this is about this one photo and it’s message.
At first glance, it is a wonderfully constructed photo of a fit mum with her three youngsters….good on you!, but then I see the caption “What is your excuse?”. and I read her words behind why she posted this, and look deeply into the photo, I became agitated and angry. “Why”, you may ask…..well, let me explain.
In the past 3-4 years there has been a growing industry, and growing is it ever….it is called the fitness industry, I like to refer to it as the bandwagon. This is big business and business is good. As our population ages, more and more people are focusing more on taking care of their bodies, and once again, respect to all those who choose this. Now, this makes it sound like I am totally against fitness, Not at all! I walk 30-60 minutes per day (and anyone who has walked with me knows I do not leisurely stroll). Family walks are a great unwinding, refocusing and reconnecting time. We make sure our children are involved in athletic activities, (the trampoline doesn’t go down until there is a really good snowfall), we eat sensibly, we practice what I like to call common sense fitness….the things we should be doing, the obvious. We don’t want our children to become obsessed with appearance, and the methodology to achieve it….we want to instill, do what you love, and love what you, both personally and professionally.
Fitness, to whatever level you are comfortable with is a personal choice, and never should one be made to feel inferior because of their choices, or that they should be working harder. “What is your excuse?”…..there are people out there with legitimate reasons for not working out at mach chicken. I, myself, can not run. My knees and ankles are terribly broken from too many years of the hard work out when I was a child, I am not a big fan of weights, but that is my personal choice. Medical issues, personal choices, they are our bodies….never should we be made to rationalize our choices to anyone, or be made to feel of them as excuses.
This poster, by asking “what is your excuse?”, is saying, in my opinion, if you don’t look like this, you have failed….you must try harder to obtain what is seen in a photo. Advertisers are constantly coming under attack for the message their ads promote, should this standard not be static for everything? Or is this ok because it is a fit mum with her kids? There are people out there who work religiously, yet if confronted by this women, would probably be asked, “what is your excuse?” What we as a society must understand, is that all the fitness and nutrition regimes in the world can not undo DNA….yes that funny little genetic code that makes us who we are. Now the common sense approach, or whichever approach you choose most assuredly helps in your overall appearance, but you can’t change DNA…..it has a blueprint for you, and this is something that we must learn to accept. My son is long and lean, my daughter shorter (although she has started her growth spurt) is compact and muscular….DNA at it’s best folks!
I previously mentioned the word “appearance.” Unfortunately, we as a society still do not show a lot of understanding if you do not fit societies perceived acceptable appearance, and unfortunately appearance still tops the list ahead of some more key human attributes. We are all not supermodel tall, fitness expert “cut”, long haired, dark haired…..the list goes on and on. We are who we are. Many people are comfortable in their skin, just the way it is. There are healthy individuals whose answer to the “excuse” is because “I love me just the way I am.” I think this is what we must focus on, is loving ourselves, not trying to live up to a picture; to be the best people we can be, mentally and physically, and not feel pressured to live up to what society’s ideal is, for in the end, it is that which will bring us happiness.
Up until this point I was merely agitated over the photo, but after reading her story, and partially why she posted the photo, my anger erupted. She had mentioned that she had bulimia, I will end that sentence right there. I applaud her for overcoming her eating disorder, not an easy thing to do, but that is where it ends. One need only ask “why” was she was a bulimic?, and the answer to my anger may be clear. Could this perhaps be because she thought she was too fat, that she didn’t measure up to societies standards, that the girls in the pictures were more beautiful….if only I was thinner. She has posted a photo, that can now be the motivation for a new generation of bulimics and anorexics (remember this disease has no rationality), because there is “no excuse.”
I understand that people want to be healthier, to live longer, and these are both perfectly rational things, but I will quote a very insightful Doctor whom I spoke with just before my mum’s death. I had asked him if the end was near, he replied, “Karen, if it wasn’t for the cancer, your mother is in perfect health.” The look on my face must have prompted his next response, “You can treat your body like a BMW, but when it’s your time, it’s your time, and no one can ever tell us when that is.” Perhaps this is why we look at life in a common sense fitness way (the Patrick KISS fitness regime)……every precaution can not protect us from everything, nor can it even come close.
I have read the many, many comments this photo has produced…and the one thing that is clear to me, is it shows the enormous divide in society of what a strong, healthy woman is. The insults back and forth are staggering, it is not empowering women in my opinion….it is deepening the chasm between us, and bringing out the perverts in the process. Empowerment, is supporting, lifting up of our fellow man, encouragement, understanding, and the realization we are all different, and it’s the differences that makes each and every individual unique and wonderful. Empowerment, is not an poster, empowerment is not asking “what is your excuse?” Empowerment is love and acceptance.