Guest post by Chloe Spencer
Working out is no longer just for personal health and fitness. It's become a trend. Something that is considered "cool" or "in". Especially in big cities like LA and New York, where fashion is a much bigger deal than in small country towns. Speaking of fashion, there are even designer work-out clothes for going to the gym in, that cost hundreds of dollars! Top designer clothing to exercise in!
That's how "trendy" exercising has become. Yoga, spinning classes, jogging down the street, using the machines at the gym; these have all become places to be "seen" at, and "seen" doing. Dressed in your Bebe or Ralph Lauren work-out clothes of course. Oh and perhaps along with your little dog too! That is considered even extra "stylish".
What happened to exercising for your personal health, you may be asking? I'm asking the same question. At least in bigger cities, where being cool or looking good ranks higher for many individuals rather than being healthy. Some of you perhaps have never experienced this around you, but after living in a city like LA, where I moved to around 3 months ago, it's everywhere. And common enough that most LA dwellers would look at me funny for writing a blog post on the topic.
Why did this trend develop? Or rather, how did exercising become only for social status or to follow a trend, for so many people?
Media today has had a big influence on being skinny, or sexualizing the image of a woman jogging down the road in a sports bra and short shorts. And of course, the majority of women today feel more pressure to be "sexy" to men than in any other era. And perhaps, exercising became cool like shopping at Whole Foods--not necessarily for the health food, but rather because celebrities do it, it is expensive and it is considered an elite grocery store. It has become a trend, especially in California, to be a health food fanatic. Again, people are following this more like sheep rather than the individual who wants to just be healthier for their own benefit.
Below I embedded a video that really shows what the media has done to us women on the topic of beauty and self-esteem. It was so powerful and really hit home with me. Maybe it will with you too. It made me want to make sure my future daughters, whenever I have them, don't get brainwashed by the media like many of us sadly have.
This story I read where I found the video above is definitely an article worth reading. The part about the eight-year-old girl and her perception of beauty forced onto her by her mother was so unbearably sad. I cried. This article and this video are definitely a wake-up call.
This post has turned out rather different than it started! My primary message has entirely evolved also. It was originally about exercising for the right reasons and to promote a healthy physically-active lifestyle to the young ones in your life. But it has evolved into something much, much deeper. And this is also for ourselves, not just the young girls and women we influence in our lives.
Women and girls everywhere, don't base your idea of beauty on imgaes in the media. Watching that video above almost made me feel less beautiful seeing the perfect bodies and faces of the models on bilboards in the beginning, but I stopped that false idea in its tracks and reminded myself of reality. All of those photos on those ads are not photos of real women. The women are covered in professional make-up, they are completely airbrushed, and digitally re-touched and designed, so much that in the end, the woman in the photo is not even real. It is a digitally-created image of a woman.
Remember, you are beautiful, in all of your own ways, as is every woman. And most importantly, you don't need a man to tell you this. YOU know this. You know this, deep down with all your heart. And if you've let a man (or woman!) bring you down about your looks before, like most of us have, don't ever let that happen again. Because you know how amazing you are. And he or she doesn't, obviously. Or, they do. And they are jealous. Something that is extremely important to remember: when someone is attacking you emotionally, it's because of them, something that made them mad or upset that day, or that they are insecure about themselves, or jealous of something about you. This is ALWAYS true.
I went through a phase where my self-esteem became very low. I decided what I would do was to write a list of all the things I love about myself. I bullet-pointed all my external features I loved and why, as well as my internal qualities. Every time I started to feel down, I would pull out this list and read it out loud to myself. I instantly felt 100 times better, every time! I recommend this to every girl or woman who feels down about herself at all at any time.
You're not alone. We all experience these feelings. But now that we know why, let's get to the root of this and stop this pressure to be "perfect" (there is no such thing!) and stop bringing ourselves down by comparing ourselves to other women (and a lot of the time to FAKE images of women on billboards and magazines!). Love yourself. And not until then can you love life. Remember this ladies! This is my most important message to you.