For the last few weeks I have felt strong. I have felt good in my skin, quick on my feet and happy to have this 30-something body that I feel confident in. Each morning I have woken up a little early to go for a quick walk/jog/run up to the reservoir or down to the park near my house. I have hit some stairs, pushed the weakness out of my legs and watched my arms tone up a little bit in the kiss of the sun. Last week I started riding a bike to commute and to the coffee shop a few times a week, loving every peddle, every slight incline and the fun of cruising around PDX. For someone that has had her doubts about her short, curvy frame, it has been a relief to not spend precious energy worrying about my body.
This morning I woke up a little later than I had planned. After staying up too late a few nights in a row, the bed easily wooed me to stay a few too many minutes. Instead of grabbing my tennis shoes and hitting the pavement once again, I logged on and looked up a 35 minute yoga workout video to start my day, hoping to save time. Within 15 minutes I was defeated. Not by the intensity of the workout, or the inflexibility in my yoga poses, but by the comparison. My abs to hers. My thighs to hers. My butt to hers. It was a quick stab and a swift killer of motivation. I no longer felt strong. I felt too soft, too squishy. My observations drained my desire and my endorphins and I quit early. After a quarter of an hour, all I saw was that my abs don’t pull in to reveal muscles, they are covered by a never leaving layer of soft flesh and my hips will probably forever have a little tuft of muffin top on them.
I hate – and am willing to use the full strength of the word hate – that, as a woman, I am placed in a position to allow the shape of my body and my own acceptance of it to dictate how I feel and the level of confidence I will walk in today. I hate that a 15 minute workout video will cause me to question the outfit I wear and the fit of my clothes. I hate that this will spiral into a critique of the shape of my face and the cut of my hair and the likelihood of my feeling a little more down than usual for the rest of the day is there.
There is a video going around the internet right now of Dustin Hoffman talking about his role in Tootsie and coming to the realization that a woman is often evaluated and accepted based on her appearance. He says in the video that he was talking to his wife one night and said that, though he felt that he was able to be a very interesting woman, he knew that he would never approach himself at a party because of his looks. It is a sad revelation and true of our culture. I hate that today it seeps into my corner of life and I will now need to battle it.