Monday, September 13, 2010

Raise Your Hand if You're a Not-Skinny Runner

One of the benefits of running in a group is the extra accountability, but an even greater one is the extra perspective.  A couple weeks ago, as I ran through the wee hours of the morning with a new friend, we launched into a conversation about - what else? - body image, body dysmorphia, and the societal stereotypes and expectations of women in fitness.  Chief among them was our annoyance with the perception that a woman involved in a sport should automatically display the body of a supermodel.

It's just isn't so, friends. 

Plenty of women (and men, mind you) who are physically active on a regular basis have bodies that fall far from the waif category.  I'm one of them.  I work my butt off in the gym and eat super clean, but I still have the mom bod.  It's a muscular, strong, and fit mom bod that I am proud of, but my body has always been more utilitarian than bombshell.  I'm not fishing for a compliment, it's just true! 

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that sometimes I'm ashamed that I am surprised when I see not-visibly-fit people out at races, or read about the workouts of my friends on Facebook, or sit in awe at the distances run by women who don't look like they should be able to do that. I'm human, and I am just as guilty of the "SHE'S a RUNNER?!" reaction as you are.  Come on, you think it too.  

But let's evolve, friends.  Raise your hand if you're an athlete in a non-athletic body. 

My lack of bombshellness is something you will just have to come to grips with, people.  If you don't like it, kindly avert your eyes to Faces of Beauty, the section of a fabulous food blog focused on women in their most beautiful state - perfectly natural - that inspired my challenge to you. 

This is me as an athlete in a regular-person bod.  

Send me your pic, too. heather @ wellnesswithoutpity (dot) com. 

Let's see what we can do to change some perceptions, shall we?


Dianne Stauber said...

Excellent topic!!! :-) I don't belong to a gym right now, but when I did I was always amazed at the people who would give me "the hairy eyeball" when I was working out. As if to say "Hey, fatty! McDonald's is THAT way!"

Pam said...

*Raises hand*

And even though I KNOW that the body isn't always indicative of the fitness level, I am still guilty of being embarassed when a larger-than-me person totally smokes my ass in a race.

Fran G said...

My hand is raised as well.
Sometimes being "surprised" by someone who doesn't look like the ideal we have of an athlete actually inspires me to do more and better. Kind of like "well, if they can do it, then I should be able to do it."

E. Peterman said...

WORD. Running has done amazing things for my stamina and mental health (and, OK, my stomach). But I am not ever going to be the wiry, hey-you-need-to-eat-a-sandwich gal. However, there are a lot of skinny people who couldn't run three miles if their lives depended on it!

The (not so) Reluctant Athlete said...

Agreed across the board! I am sick of feeling sheepish when people expect me to have an awesome body just because I workout. I do have an awesomely STRONG's just a little lumpy! LOL

'Drea said...

I'm in a really weird situation in that I now struggle with body image more so than when I weighed 50 pounds more.

I do not have a petite frame and never will and I'm constantly trying to make peace with my thickness and be grateful for an awesome body that has seldom let me down...

Ellen said...

First of all, Heather, you *do* have an awesome body!

Second, beauty arises from "imperfections"; look at all of the women who are "beautiful" by societal standards--they are beautiful not because they're perfect, but rather, because they're not!

Claudia said...

great post!! I'm raising my hands!!

Wendy said...

Great post!

Masker # 7 said... I one of those facebook workout posters who doesn't look like I could be a runner!?!?! :) I run day in and day out for the mental benefits, so I don't care if I have a runner's body or not. Okay, so maybe sometimes I do care, just a little, but after reading your blog, I feel a lot better and more confident just being me!

The (not so) Reluctant Athlete said...

One big round of applause for all of us out there - reading your comments has felt so good this week! Everyone have a fun weekend!