body positivity

Bro, Do You Even Lift? And Other Competitive Fitness Discussions

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Things I do not ordinarily recommend: selling furniture to strangers on Craigslist. My basic life motto was “nothing good ever comes from Craigslist,” tied for first place with “everything is better with sweatpants” and “there’s no such thing as a bad time to quote Shakespeare.” But I’m in the process of moving out of my apartment, and someone’s got to take care of all this huge, heavy oaken furniture that I borrowed from my roommate’s relatives. So Craigslist it is.

Today’s activity consisted of helping our very friendly, not creepy Craigslister carry a piece of said huge, heavy oaken furniture – namely, a five-drawer dresser – out of our apartment, down a flight of stairs, across the yard, and into his flatbed truck. Now, I realize that from my internet persona it may be difficult to tell, but let me clue you in on a little secret. I’m not exactly bodybuilder material. When I use weights, and that’s really something to write home about, it happens so often, they weigh a whopping three to five pounds. And that’s enough. So needless to say, as I fill out job apps and wait for interviews, “furniture mover” is not something in my near future.

This isn’t particularly earth-shattering in a body-positivity sense, I’m aware. But after we’d heaved the offending armoire into the flatbed, I started listening to the conversation that he, my roommate, and I were having. And it made me think.

“That’s definitely my workout for the day,” I sigh, leaning against the wall of the house.

“Yep, no need to go to the gym today,” Craigslist Guy says.

“We’re two weak, short women, this is as much as we work out,” Roommate says.

And so on. Polite, filler conversation. But why do we always do this? I don’t know about you, readers, but I’m guilty of making entirely too much of a conversational deal out of my exercise regimen. The thought process runs a little bit like this:

  1. Something happens that calls into question my physical fitness level. This can be something as practical as me trying to lift an uncooperative object, or something as, well, as petty as someone else mentioning that they had a good run at the gym yesterday.
  2. I instantly go into a spiral of self-doubt. The thoughts come hard and fast: do I work out enough? I’ve gained a lot of weight recently, clearly this is because I’m not working out enough and I’m trying that whole “intuitive eating” thing, which is currently playing out as that “eat more than you ever thought you’d let yourself” thing. They’re so much healthier than I am. I wish I could lose some weight. Man, this sucks.
  3. I try to come up with an appropriate response, falling into one of two categories: a) explain exactly how often I work out to defend my status as “one of the good ones” (let’s not even talk about how screwed up of a thought this is) or b) I say something self-deprecating.
  4. I generally say something self-deprecating.

This happens, now that I stop to think about it, constantly. In recovery, I find myself continually defending my right not to work out, even though I do it with some regularity. Is this because I want to prove to the world that “fitspo” and “pain is weakness leaving the body” is really not the best inroad to a healthy lifestyle, physically and mentally? Partially. I definitely consciously mention that it’s okay not to go the gym sometimes, and that it’s okay to indulge in that froyo because you’re dying to have it, and because froyo. Sometimes it’s conscious and intentional.

Other times, it’s something else.

When did exercise regimens become the new golden standard for how good of a person you are? Because somehow “going to the gym and getting on the elliptical X days a week” has become synonymous with “getting your life together.” Can’t I have my life together and work out when I want to? And what about those who, broadening our worldview to be a little less ableist, can’t lace up their running shoes and go for a jog? And those who don’t want to, because their stress relief and enjoyment comes from something like gardening, or baking, or cosplaying, or whatever? Do I need to defend myself for choosing to be or not to be in their number? (And did my third motto just subtly slip into this paragraph? Possibly.)

What exactly is the solution for this heightened sensitivity to, and need to defend myself against others about, exactly what I choose to do exercise-wise? Tough to say. For now, I’m making a conscious effort to be more aware of it, and to call myself out when I see the four-step cycle beginning again. I’ll work out or not work out as it fits my mental state, my lifestyle, my schedule, the weather, my mood, the time of day, the placement of Venus in relation to Mars, etc.

But one thing is certain: Craigslist Guy probably didn’t give a winged crap about whether or not I went to the gym this evening. He’s got his dresser. And I’ve got to revise my set of mottos.

Looking for a Body-Positive Internship?

Hello, my dear and lovely readers!

If you’ve been with me for some time, and/or you read the one-paragraph bio that I knocked out under the “About” tab, you know that I blog in a few other places than here. In fact, I work as the associate editor for the amazing body-positive website Adios Barbie, which has been providing body-positive resources for bodies at a variety of intersections of identity, and questioning the status quo about our bodies, since 1998. They’re amazing. (We’re amazing?) If you haven’t checked us out and you’re still in the mood for some positivity, discussion, and awareness – of course you are! – make sure you check us out there.

But you don’t need to stop after you’ve looked! Adios Barbie is currently accepting internship applications!

Yep, get excited! You could get involved in a well-established, well-respected, and pretty freaking awesome body-positive community right now, just by sending in your application. Adios Barbie is where I got my start blogging and dealing with these issues, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. So you should all totally get on that.

Plus, it’s a virtual position, meaning that you can join our team from the comfort of your living room! I go to work in my pajamas – what’s not to love?

Interested? For more details, keep reading…

Six-Month Internship with Adios Barbie
Positions Available: 4

Adios, Barbie: The One Stop Body Image Shop for identity issues including size, race, media, and more!
Since the dawn of the world wide web (or at least since 1998), AdiosBarbie.com has been the only site whose mission is to broaden the concept of body image to include people of all races, ages, cultures, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, and sizes.

Adios Barbie seeks diversity- not only in content, but also in our team. Thus, we want folks of all backgrounds and experiences to apply. We believe feminism is for everyone and urge folks who take a stand for or are feminists of color to apply as well.

This groundbreaking movement is seeking enthusiastic, change-minded people to join in the body-positive revolution. Four six-month internships are currently available with the possibility of advancement to a permanent role with the team at their completion.

We are looking for interns in three different fields: Writing/Publishing, PR/Social Media, and Advertising/Marketing. Please see below for the duties and responsibilities required of each position.

Want to intern with Adios Barbie but feel that you have a different skill set? Send us a pitch! Let us know how you can help, and we’ll consider your idea!

Internship Descriptions

Writing and Publishing

*Note – Two positions available

  • Research and develop content
  • Obtain web content in various forms (print, podcast, videos, etc.) for sharing and publication
  • Write one original piece (journalistic article, commentary, media analysis, etc.) per month
  • Have interest and experience in the field of their internship.

Public Relations and Social Media

*Note – One position available

  • Increase the visibility and impact of the organization
  • Maintain and develop media lists, press releases, and basic PR functions
  • Promote Adios Barbie using social media tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr
  • Communicate and interact with the public via social media
  • Familiarity with WordPress, basic html, and google analytics a plus

Advertising and Marketing

*Note – One position available

  • Assist in fundraising
  • Perform administrative and editing tasks for Adios Barbie
  • Create and promote Kickstarters or other fundraising campaigns
  • Help to create advertising strategies – both to bring advertisers to the site and to spread the word about Adios Barbie
  • Familiarity with Photoshop and design a plus

Ideal Candidate Charactaristics

We are actively seeking candidates who are:

  • Sensitive and compassionate with a working knowledge of the following issues and how they intersect: media literacy, race, gender, age, identity, size, ability, and body image
  • Driven by a strong work ethic and the ability to take initiative needing limited supervision
  • Team players who are open to collaboration

Notes

The internships are virtual positions; thus, applicants must have reliable high-speed internet connections and be skilled and responsible regarding electronic communication. Since the positions are remote, anyone anywhere in the world can apply.

Adios Barbie is run entirely by volunteers. As such, these internships are unpaid.

The time required is negotiable. However, interns should expect to devote an average of ten hours per week to their projects.

How to Apply

Applicants must submit:

  • A resume
  • A letter of interest, including how both you and the organization can benefit from this collaboration
  • A writing sample of 300-800 words on a topic relevant to the work of Adios Barbie

Applicants are encouraged (but in no way required) to submit:

  • Examples of previous related work
  • Links to blogs or other portfolios
  • Letters of recommendation
  • List of relevant coursework

Please indicate in the subject line which position you are applying for.

Interviews will be held via Skype.

Deadline for applications:
Monday, February 17th, 2014

Send applications and questions to:
Pia Guerrero, Founder/Editor
info@adiosbarbie.com

 

via Internship.

If you’re interested but the timeline poses a problem, contact us at info@adiosbarbie.com and let us know, and we can talk about your schedule.

Can’t wait to read your applications!

Five Ways To Talk To People Against Body Acceptance Without Making Enemies

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Hey, all! After a fantastic trip to Northern Ireland, I’m back in my home base, catching up on sleep and wondering why driving on the right side of the road has suddenly become so difficult. On the plus side, this means that I’ll be able to get back into my more typical schedule of posting. Exciting times!

Today’s topic is a little more abstract and general than usual, but I still think it’s really important to think about.

How do you respond to people who disagree with you about body positivity?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to repeat the same three or four arguments in favor of self-love and health at every size. Even in the past two weeks, I need more than the fingers on both hands. While body positivity is a very personal journey, many people have a hard time understanding what it’s all about, or why it’s really not any of their business how I feel about my body.

I sometimes have a difficult time not flying off the handle when confronted by people who are completely against all the principles of positive body image that I work for. I find myself tempted to build a soapbox out of whatever materials I happen to have at hand, climb up on it, and wave my hands around while shouting for about a quarter of an hour. But this won’t accomplish anything.

And that’s why I’m compiling this list: Five Ways To Talk To People Against Body Acceptance Without Making Enemies. It’s not the catchiest name you’ve ever read, but it’s still a useful list to have on hand when someone confronts you about your beliefs. Because if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s probably only a matter of time.

1. Keep It Civil

This is one of the most important elements, and the one that’s the hardest to stick to. When someone is telling you that fat people are the reason they pay more taxes and so should pay higher health care costs, or that eating disorders are first-world problems for spoiled rich kids, it’s tough not to get angry. But no one’s mind has ever been changed by an exchange like this:

Person A: “Oh my God, how can you believe something like that? You’re so stupid!”

Person B: “You’re right! I am stupid! How did I never notice that before? Thanks for pointing it out!”

Often, the only reason someone is so vehemently against you is that society pushes the opposite message of the body-positive community. It’s not fair to target others because they haven’t been exposed to the viewpoints that we’re dealing with.

If they’re willing to listen to you and hear your reasoning behind your beliefs, that’s great. But think about it this way: you have someone in front of you that can potentially be persuaded to change their perception of the body-positive community and respect people of any size, shape, color, or what have you. Don’t throw that opportunity away by going off on a rant.

2. Ask Questions

A recent conversation I had with a total stranger (that’s what happens when you put me on an eight-hour flight, I get into discussions about body positivity with my seatmate) evolved into the motivating factor for compiling this list. He shared his distaste for dating women he deemed “overweight,” because living a healthy lifestyle was important to him, and he was worried that dating a heavier woman would compromise his goals.

There were plenty of things I wanted to tell the man in 26F, not least of all that weight and health are not the same thing, or that what a woman does with her body does not need to impact what he does with his. But lecturing him would get me nowhere, and would make me look like a jerk.

“I mean, can you really tell what kind of lifestyle habits I have by what I look like?” I asked him. “Can you tell I’m not a chain smoker and an alcoholic?”

I’m neither, by the way, but by looking at my weight alone, it’s tough to tell.

The best part of questions is that they force the audience to think for themselves without making them feel attacked. It’s the same as the old “I-feel” statements: you’re allowed to express how you feel without ganging up on your conversation partner. Which I’m sure they appreciate.

3. Have Facts And Resources Ready

Too many arguments get derailed because they descend into finger-pointing and name-calling. Calling each other rude names isn’t going to convince anyone that body positivity is a good thing for society.

But you know what might? Facts.

Too often, the “War On Obesity” or the Sedentary Age of America gets blown up into emotional appeals and exaggerations. When obesity has become not only a disease but an epidemic, it’s tough to get people to take a step back and think critically about what they’ve been told.

If you have facts and scientific studies that show that BMI is not a reliable indicator of health, or that fad diets are more harmful than helpful, or that being severely underweight can be more damaging to your health than being overweight, this hard data will go ten times as far as your simply repeating, “you’re wrong.”

Debate Team 101: it’s easier to be persuasive with facts rather than opinions.

4. Meet People Where They Are

This tactic appears all over the consciousness-raising sphere, from educating people about sexism, racism, homophobia, or what have you. If you’re talking to someone who’s never considered the idea that fat discrimination or society’s pressures on our bodies and our health habits are serious problems, leaping into a discussion of complicated particulars on the subject is not going to be helpful.

Everyone has been exposed to some kind of body pressure, whether or not they think they have. Been teased for being the scrawny kid who got picked last for dodgeball? Anxious because you’re shorter than your girlfriend? Feeling uncomfortable because your significant other expects you to look like either David Beckham or Kate Moss? You’ve experienced body pressure. How did it make you feel? Trust me, you’re not the only one who feels that way.

5. Know When To Walk Away

It would be great to think that with enough reasonable conversation and awareness about the serious problems around body image, social pressures, and body type discrimination, we could change everybody’s mind in the whole world.

It would also be great to have a pony and a billion dollars.

There are some people who disagree with you simply to get a rise out of you. Sometimes it’s patronizing, sometimes it’s rude, sometimes there’s a “it’s for your own good!” note to it.

Either way, know that there are some battles you’re not going to win.

This is a big issue, and it will take more than one conversation to change everybody else’s mind. There’s no call to expose yourself to verbal abuse when it’s clear you’re making no progress.

That’s what the “block” function on blogs is for.

And that’s what legs are for: to walk away.

What do you think? Are there any other suggestions you’d give to people trying to explain their body-positive position to others? Anything I’ve suggested that you don’t think will work? Let me know!