Saturday, August 20, 2005

Body-Bashing Demons

Now ladies I know we all hate our bodies, and must complain to our friends about them, but during a run is a completely inappropriate time for such body bashing. Especially when there are so many other times women use this behavior to bond in our culture.

A more appropriate time is say, when we've all had a few brewskis on a Saturday night, and we're complaining about the beer gut we are forming. Or when you are shopping together; yes this is definately the culturally ordained time for women to tell their friends how they hate their bodies (often shouted through dressing room doors). And let's not forget the all-the-women-in-the-restuarant-bathroom times. The guys think we are in there discussing them when really we are just examining and commenting on each other's thighs in the mirror.

But to be fair to you and your running partner, please delay the activity of bashing your body until after you run is complete and preferably at one of these preordained and fully understandable times.

There are several simple reasons why this is just good running etiquette:

Reason number one: Breath Support

While running, breathe is a precious commodity and talking is therefore a choice that depletes this resource. If you are going to get chatting why not talk about something that effects both you and your partner, not simply whine about yourself, looking for a good ego stroke. Also why not use this precious breath to help you complete the goal of a strong run, instead of focusing on the goals you feel you've failed to meet.

Reason number two: Your body may go on strike.

How would you feel if you were working extremely hard for someone, stretching your abilities to their limits, only to have that someone point out how weak and ugly you were? And to add insult to injury, what if they loved doing this especially right when you were working hard for them and felt the strongest, most alert, and able to complete the task. You are healthy! You are strong! You are working hard for your Master, and yet she is describing how you are weak, you are ugly, and how you will never get the job done. Well you can see where this would lead, you would go on strike, or worse yet quit altogether. No wonder your bodies poops out before the end of the run; you've already doomed it to failure.

I'm warning you (and myself included) if you don't start stroking you bodies ego, it will most certainly do just that and start living up to the false image you've given it of being fat, weak, and useless.

Ladies stop sabotaging your bodies right when they are working so hard for you! I for one will work on telling my body how beautiful it is, especially when it is running hard for me, even while I ignore looks of disdain from skinnier girls at the water cooler.

Reason number three
(and this is the one that really pisses me off):

You are telling your running partner she is fat!

Oh yeah, you heard me.

Here is the scenario. You are running with your partner, the one who is probably about your height and fitness level and weight because she runs exactly your pace, and you see faster and often skinnier girls up ahead.

You say to your partner how much you hate your weight and how you really need to get in better shape so that you can keep up with the aforementioned girls.

But what your partner hears is: "We" are too slow! "We" are too fat! "We" are too out of shape!
What would you expect, she is essentially your body type and she is happy to have found a partner who matches her fitness level so that they can keep the same pace. You are also on the same team, and an insult to one in the group, is an insult to all (or so my Socialogy professor tells me).

Now is that a nice way to treat a friend? Maybe if she asked you to be brutally honest she would have been ready for this. But she was actually mid-stride telling her body that it was healthy and strong and beautiful, so that it would keep fulfilling these descriptions until mile 18. She struggling with her own body-bashing demons and she was winning.
Now you've sabotaged both yourself and your friend, and is that really what partners are for?
Digression: I think mothers also often do this to their daughter when they get plastic surgery or
complain to their daughters about their own bodies: Hello!!! Mothers of the World! What does this say to your daughter about her own genetic replica of your body? But that is for another blog.

My friends, I am not at all innocent in this matter, so please don't take this blog as abuse. I find it hard not to complain about my body, especially to those I feel safe with.

We all are a bit sheepish about our bodies. And it is good for us to be able to share these feelings with other women. I just want to encourage all of us to be proud of the fact we are out there running at all. And we are so blessed that our bodies are working for us. Today we walked with two feet, today we climbed big hills, today we were outside, out of bed, and healthy!
Thank God for our bodies, for they are wonderfully made.

Next time you are running with your running partner, at mile 10, and those body-bashing demons are on your shoulder, tempting you to say, "I need to loose some weight", I dare you instead to say, "We are both georgous right now! Aren't our bodies healthy, strong, and beautiful?"

And I'll be right there on your other shoulder, scowling at the body-bashing demons, and saying, "Amen Sister!"


jeanne said...

Amen, sister!

I hope I haven't been guilty of this particular sin...I think not, because I'm pretty thrilled I can keep putting one foot in front of the other!

But you are right on to write about this! I would really get sick fast of hearing someone complain about their bodies for 1 mile, nevermind 18!

I try (the pollyanna that I am (um, not)) to OFTEN tell my partner, whoever she is, "We are doing fantastic!" even when we are the slowest people on earth. because I really believe that we are doing fantastic.

Great topic; i'm so glad you brought this up!

Noames said...

Hell yeah. You are so right about this--how can you be too upset about your body issues, when that body is carrying you 18 miles? That's a phenomenal accomplishment! As you say, there's plenty of time for the angst in other situations.