I was an unhealthy teenager. I hated my body, and I didn't think that much of the rest of me either. I always felt awkward, so I gorged on things like ultra-cheesy pasta to escape life. I have gradually built self-confidence and slowly replaced most of my bad habits with better ones, but the old me, or at least the memory of the old me, still exists and will always exist.
My friend's foray into the world of fitness modelling inspired me to take a look at the term "eating disorder" in my trusty dictionary. I am completely shocked and saddened that the fitness model craze is not only unrecognized as another eating disorder, but is also encouraged by the hardcore fitness community.
In time, all of my pageant friends became so obsessed with their appearances that they made every woman who walked down the street into a comparison, celebrating when they discovered that they were still the "fairest of them all" and reaching a near breakdown when a long-legged stranger made them feel as though there was more work to be done. A petite blond at a cafe immediately made them "fat." A girl with acne made them scoff and cackle like hens. In time, the side show of pageantry bled off into their every day lives with such vehemence that each moment became a graceless performance.
The focus of our petition is less about hurting Lululemon and more about helping women. Our goal isn't about bringing Lululemon down, or forcing them to sell merchandise they don't want to, it's about starting a conversation that will open the eyes and minds of so many people who insist on judging a person's level of health by their weight.
Thanks to Caroline Berg Eriksen's post-pregnancy selfie that she took just four days after giving birth to her daughter we have been pulled back into the "what should women's bodies look like?" debate. Let's stop paying so much attention to the bodies that we can't relate to and start embracing, celebrating and taking care of the ones we do.
When a mom in Manitoba sent her two kids to school with homemade lunches that included roast beef, potatoes, carrots, oranges and milk, she was shocked to receive a note from the school telling her that their lunches were deemed "unbalanced" and were supplemented with Ritz crackers. The school follows the strict guidelines of what many believe to be a very outdated Canada's Food Guide and felt that the "grains" category had been neglected. To add insult to injury, this mom was fined $10 for her oversight. I'm confused, and if I was this mom, I would be livid.
If worrying were a workout, we'd all be runway models. But the effects of constant low-grade stress and the body image tug-of-war eventually take their toll. A recent study from the U.K. found that women will spend an average of one year of their lives worrying about their weight. That's 21 minutes a day, two hours a week, and over 120 hours a year.
Thank goodness there is more to talk about than Rob Ford and Miley this week -- I refuse to give either one of them air time (even though I just did, right there). I found a really cute Etsy video, a delicious quinoa snack (to buy, not make), some amazing gift-wrapping ideas for the holidays, a revealing video and suggestions on how to help people in the Philippines.
Every day, our daughters are bombarded with lies. Ask any parent what they want most for their kids. The fallout from these lies is all around us. We are raising a generation of girls who hate their bodies and therefore hate themselves. Chances are, they'll say "For them to be healthy and happy." A girl who hates her body is neither.
Healthy bodies are being shamed so they can glorify skinny ones. We need to love our bodies into health, not hate them into being skinny. Lulelemon should be about getting all women IN the game, not banishing most of them to the sidelines. Lululemon stores even keep their largest items -- sizes 10 and 12 -- segregated from smaller sizes.
"We Don't Need An Excuse" is not about attacking Maria Kang. It goes well beyond her and focuses on the "No Excuses" movement. It's about realizing that we all walk different paths and have different challenges. We are all worthy and we are all valid. No one needs to give any excuses. I think that's the inspiration I'd like to get on board with.
Being healthy includes living an active lifestyle and eating a variety of foods in moderation, but being healthy will look different for different people. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could actually see more than one version of a fit body represented in the media? Instead we're bombarded with image after image perpetuating the myth that the skinniest women are always the fittest and the men with the most muscles are always the strongest.
My problem isn't with Maria as a person. I don't believe that she was intentionally trying to hurt anyone, and there's a very good chance that she had no idea how this image would add major fuel to the already blazing fire of contempt in a society that glorifies the skinniest bodies and demonizes pretty much everything else.
My mother came out of the clothing store change room wearing a long-sleeved pink sweatshirt. When she came out, smiling at me, I could tell she felt confident. Her smile vanished the second she saw herself. "I look fat." It's a difficult feeling to describe, when you see your mother so wounded by her own reflection.
When I read a recent blog post addressing "indecent girls" that the author's sons may encounter online, the first people that I thought of were Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, Audrie Pott, and Cherice Morales. In each of these cases, the girls became social pariahs. In each of these cases, the girls committed suicide after enduring bullying and slut-shaming both online and offline. All because of that toxic mentality.
As I walked into a clothing store, a sales representative greeted me within 30 seconds with a friendly smile. Once I tried on the clothes I came out of the change-room to get her opinion. I was excited about the interview because I was going to be discussing positive body image and my experiences as a plus-size model, and I wanted to look my best for the segment. I asked her if the blazer and blouse fit me well and if the colours looked good together. She rudely responded by saying: "I don't know, I don't dress people like you."
University is stressful and students can develop mental health disorders at this time. In fact, the majority of these disorders tend to develop around this age group. Getting help early on for mental health problems is always a good idea. For example, it is ideal to prevent problematic shyness from becoming Social Anxiety Disorder and normal sadness from becoming clinical depression.