Happy Halloween! Today may be full of haunted houses and tales of ghosts and ghouls, but we want to take this opportunity to address some much scarier things that have become a part of our thoughts, our perceptions, and our everyday lives.
1. Zero calories.
Here’s a list of things we consume that should be zero calories: water. The end. If something has color, flavor, and substance and is zero calories, that’s terrifying. Food has calories. If it doesn’t have calories, then it has chemicals, and if you’re looking for a food-related word that starts with the letter ‘C’ to fear, it should be chemicals. Not calories.
(Also: skim milk. Why is it scary? Well, let’s just say that when they make it skim, it’s not white anymore. But it’s white when you buy it. )
2. “Guilty pleasures.”
We now live in a world where the term “guilty pleasure” is used to describe pretty much anything we enjoy. Wine? Guilty pleasure. Chocolate? Guilty pleasure. Potato chips? Guilty pleasure. Here’s what we think: STOP FEELING GUILTY ABOUT PLEASURE. By pegging these things as “indulgences” or things we should feel “guilty” about, we buy into this moronic idea that our perfect selves are lightly jogging on a treadmill 18 hours a day as we munch daintily on lettuce, and any deviation from this is a failure on our parts. This is ridiculous. Sure, some things (most things) are better consumed in moderation, but life is about balance, and it’s about happiness. So stop thinking of things, especially food, as something to be indulged in or to later feel guilty about, and start thinking of them as delicious happiness that you have every right to enjoy.
3. The words we use to describe women’s bodies.
We popped onto Pinterest for some inspiration the other day and typed “fitness” into the search bar. Vague, yes, but we were hoping to be motivated by cool new sayings and awesome pictures of muscles. Here’s what we found instead:
SEXIEST LEGS EVER. THUNDER THIGHS NO MORE. THE PERFECT BUBBLE BUTT. Nearly 100% of fitness targeted at woman references their looks, reinforcing the idea that women should exercise so that they can look the way society wants them to look. Muffin top. Bat wings. Thunder thighs. STOP. Stop using these terms to describe other people’s bodies, and stop using them to describe your own.
4. The idea that a workout can give you a TOTALLY DIFFERENT BODY.
We’re not talking about normal exercise-and-healthy-eating-driven results here. Yes, you can change your body. You can make it stronger and leaner, you can make your muscles more defined. But you CAN’T actually make your muscles longer. You can’t become taller. You can’t rearrange the placement of your bones. When you’re looking for a workout or a new program, think about how it makes you feel and how it’s strengthening you and what new skills or abilities you are gaining, instead of thinking it will make you look like the model/dancer/bodybuilder demonstrating the moves.
5. The idea that you can “work off” a weekend.
Or a meal. Or a vacation. The understanding that people have of the relationship between food and exercise can be really frightening. How many times have you heard a woman say something like, “Oh I need to do an extra workout today, I had a huge dinner last night,” or “I signed up for a class tomorrow morning, so I can really splurge tonight.”? Calories in vs. calories out is not a direct correlation, and we need to be thinking about food as necessary nourishment as well as an enjoyable pasttime, and exercise as necessary movement, as well as — you guessed it — an enjoyable pasttime. One does not cancel out the other.
Look, Photoshop is amazing when you want to see what you would look like with purple hair or put yourself into a photo you found of all your favorite baseball players hanging out together (JK, what kind of lunatic would do that? Oh, me.), but when it’s being used to take already thin models and make them even thinner, and thus spreading even more images of even more unattainable beauty around, Photoshop is scary. Surely we all remember this Photoshop fiasco, where a Target ad featured a girl with a mysteriously cut out crotch? The moral here is: Don’t believe what you see, especially in magazine ads. It’s enough to just look like a person, and it means you can have your whole crotch.
7. What we pass on.
Our actions, our words, and our beliefs affect others. We can inspire others, we can tear others down, and when it comes to children, we can truly have wonderful or devastating long-lasting effects. If you haven’t seen this amazing video from Dove, Legacy, please check it out and share it. Moms, your negative body image becomes your daughter’s negative body image. Your obsession with counting calories or feeling guilty over a bar of chocolate becomes your daughter’s guilt. And your love for your body and living a healthy, happy life — that becomes her love. Think about your legacy, and leave an amazing one.