Wait! This post isn’t that much about running as it is about people making comments about your body and also about body image, self-love, and being aware rather than being led with fear.
This morning I left the house for a recovery run wearing just a sports bra and shorts with a few other essentials: socks, sneakers, my Garmin watch, sunglasses and sunblock. I ran with just a sports bra and no shirt several times last summer and loved it, feels so freeing to leave your house and go for a run or walk with the sun on your skin (protected with sunblock of course, you can still get a good tan if you are in to that sort of thing) and you are able to move about more freely when exercising with less on too. Overall it just feels great and liberating and a little like, hey I don’t care what you think about my body, I feel great, I got this.
I start up the street for my warm up walk and feel the air on my skin, ahhh, so nice. I am off on my run and notice two ladies in their driveway noticing me, they laugh, I think to myself, "Are they laughing at me?" Is this one of my insecurities creeping in or are they laughing about something else? Who knows. I run about 4-5 meters and my, “Who knows?” turns into “Who cares!” Really though, what does it matter. Their opinion is not more important than mine. I got this. Self-talk is powerful.
I get on to the main road, one of my favorite places to run, but there is a lot of construction. I refuse to change my route for the fear that someone might make a comment about my body as I run by so I choose to keep to my planned route. We always have choices. Off I go up the hill. I notice people driving by and looking in their rear-view mirrors. Are they looking at me? Is it because of what I am wearing? Maybe they are looking at the construction. Again, who cares. By the way, I know the world doesn’t revolve around me and maybe people are noticing me out running simply because I am the only person on the road or maybe because they don’t like what they see or because they do. Who knows. Or maybe they are looking at the flowers in the ditch!
So, these 2 men in a driveway installing something in someone’s garage notice me, or at least I think I see them noticing me, they are looking in my direction. I am running by and one guy says to the other, “Hey Matt! Check that out!” Um, THAT? I am human, last time I checked I'm not a that. Really? So here is the lesson folks this is not the first time someone has commented on my body and yes I am being bold here and assuming Matt and this other man were referring to me and I could be 100% wrong but for the sake of this post let’s go with the assumption they were. The lesson is: no one has the right to comment on your body. No one.
You should be about to go about in the world doing what you want with your body and move it and clothes it how you want without someone making a comment that is less than positive or even what they might think is positive. In the past I have had many comments placed upon my body about my weight, size, shape, level of beauty, level of sexiness, etc. No thanks. I got this. I've also been told what to do with my body, "Don't lose any more weight Doris." "Don't gain any more muscle." and so on. I have had questions or even been challenged about my body such as, "How much is your body fat percentage?" and when I replied the comment I got back was, "Oh, I thought it would be lower than that". I have had comments like, "You are brave to wear those shorts." I have had a few clients point out, and when I saw point out I mean actually point and touch my body to the body part they are talking about and say, "Doris are you getting a little belly fat?" and "I want to lose the fat around the love handles, you know right around here", and proceeded to poke me in my waist area. No thanks. I once said hello to a friend/man I'd like to think I know well as he was going into a building, then said, "K, see you later." He replied with, "No, I'd rather wait and watch you walk away." I know this man to be a good, kind man that regularly gives back to his community. That day he chose to make an inappropriate unwanted comment towards me. No thanks. I control my body and what it does and how it moves and grooves about in the world and you don’t get to comment on that. You can do you and I will do me. Thanks. I got this.
The power of words. I am guilty of making the wrong choice of words too. In the past I know I have commented on others bodies, asked questions I shouldn't have and passed judgement. I am sorry. I will do better. I am doing better. The last few years I have spent time on research and self-study on body image, body positivity and all things about those topics and I am learning and growing. I want to help other women to learn, grow and understand their value too. I want to be a fitness professional and woman that leads by example and I will strive to do that by continuing to choose my words carefully and stand up for myself and others.
Every man and every woman or any gender that you identify with has the right to be able to exercise in any clothing deemed appropriate for the facility they are in by the dress code of course but outside is a free for all so you don’t get to comment. It’s true I don’t have control over what people think or even what they do say to me or about me but I do control my body and my reaction to their comments and my behaviors surrounding it. I can make a choice every time or any time to educate, not take it personally or to ignore and move on with my day or make a choice in another direction that day depending on how I feel. But I won’t berate the person or add to the negativity of it.
There is enough hate, self-doubt, fear and self-harm in this world. We need more love, more loving towards ourselves. More kindness towards ourselves and others, less judgement and competition and comparison. It’s something I am actively working on, I don’t get it right all the time but slowly working towards making it a daily habit. When I was growing up my mother told me I was beautiful. I believed I was beautiful. To this day, now at age 40, I believe I am beautiful. I know I am beautiful. Now wait, before you think I am being all self-absorbed I am not. It’s okay for someone to think they are beautiful isn’t it? We are so used to and programmed to a society where people are hard on themselves, we are comfortable with that. Let’s get more comfortable with loving ourselves and being nicer to ourselves so we in turn can be kinder to others.
If I can get back to the running part to make a transition about safety. Today and every time I run if I see a man on the other side of the road cross the road to join me on my side the road I automatically turn on my safety instinct switch and cross the road to protect myself. It’s just what I do. I don’t even really think about it. Instinct. Just for the record for the guy that decides to try to sneak up on me, I could probably outrun you or claw your eyes out with my fabulous nails. Just saying.
When I was younger I was sexually abused by a man. He snuck up on me and everything was a secret and it was all very scary. I experienced a lot of anxiety, fear and uncertainty in my home growing up and developed a diagnosis of PTSD among a few other mental illnesses that I work through daily. I am not blaming or attaching these illnesses to that experience but research shows their could be a strong link. To this day I am hyper-vigilant, and very sensitive to smells, sounds and have an extreme reaction to people coming up on me fast especially from behind me.
When I am outside running I am not in fear but I am Running with Awareness. I am aware of my surroundings. I keep myself safe that way. Safety is always the priority with me, feeling secure. I know my routes and my husband knows the routes I am taking and the days and approximate times I am taking them. I use my GPS watch to tell me my pace and distance but also for tracking purposes and I use main roads and run in the daylight. I am smart and careful but not paralyzed or led by fear. I run for fun and joy and also for exercise, performance and my own competition and for healing.
All of this being said in life we really don’t need to be heckled at or catcalled, we know our worth. We are valuable. We got this.
Women are awesome. I think men are too. I married one of the awesome ones.
As women we know we are awesome so we don’t need anyone to comment on our bodies. That goes for any gender. No one needs their body commented on. We got this.
We know we are strong from the inside out and the outside all the way back in.
We got this.
We know we are amazing enough to create another life.
We got this.
We know we can do incredible things in life with our careers.
We got this.
We know we are creatures of beauty, grace, intelligence, love and light.
We are these things and so much more. We don’t need your comments. WE Got THIS.