Saturday, February 4, 2012

The idea for this post has been floating around in my head for quite some time now.  I've hesitated, because to write it would mean confessing things about myself that I had really wanted to just shove back into the past and forget about.  An email I received this morning from a woman who I used to train made me feel like I had to write it.  The email began with the sentence "I hate myself."  She continued on to say that she hated her thighs, her butt, her arms, her hair, her face, and well you get the picture.  After exercising and watching what she ate for years, she still felt like a poor man's version of Eva Longoria, an actress that her husband thought was the most beautiful woman on earth.  She was reaching out to me in frustration after feeling like she would never be good enough, pretty enough, or sexy enough no matter what she did, or ate.  She didn't want me to tell her what to eat, or what workout to do, she just had had it and needed someone to vent to.  I've felt like her, and I know others have too, both men and women.  Held up against the standards set by Hollywood or the fashion industry, and continually taken to the next level by make up artists, airbrushing and computer editing, we are trying to achieve the impossible.  You can't become what doesn't exist, and all these celebrities that we all lust after have cellulite, pimples, and bad hair days, just like the rest of us.

I don't know how much this woman's husband mentioned how hot he thought Eva Longoria was, but I do know how damaging it can be to hear that.  So here is confession number 1.  I once dated someone who had a thing for a particular Victoria's Secret model, and one night asked me what her name was.  He continued on to say that she was the most beautiful women on the planet, and in subsequent conversations said that although he loved me, he would totally leave me for her.  In hindsight I wonder if that was the beginning of the end of our relationship.  I just couldn't comprehend how you could say that to someone you love.  But worse than that, my opinion of myself diminished.  I allowed that to affect my self esteem, and I regret that.  How many of you have "free passes", or that one celebrity you'd be allowed to sleep with if you got the chance?  My opinion? Get rid of that.  Sure, appreciate another person for their physical beauty or nice body, but please stop short of saying you would leave your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse for someone else.  I guess some people could brush that off, but I have seen former clients and students come to me saying "I want to look like this person.", and then explain that the celebrity they wanted to look like was their significant others' "free pass".

Something else my former client said was that she just wanted to be skinny for one day, just to see what it feels like for once in her life.  When is this skinny thing going to end?  When do we stop holding ourselves up against emaciated actresses and models and feeling like we fall short?  I will take this even further.  If women feel the need to starve them selves skinny, how many men see images of actors with ripped abs and perfect physiques and feel like they don't measure up?  How does one compete with digital abs and airbrushed pecs?  So here's confession number 2, and a particularly hard one for me.  When I was in high school, I was a dancer, and although I didn't think I was fat, I desperately wanted the skinny ballet bodies that some of my fellow students had.  I would skip breakfast, save my lunch money and bring a piece of fruit for lunch.  When I had saved enough money I would buy diet pills in an effort to relieve myself of the appetite that stood between me and the perfect skinny body.  While that didn't last long enough for me to affect my health in any way, I did become too thin, and it was emotionally painful.  Skinny does not equal healthy, sexy or beautiful!

So, before I go on way too long (I may have already done that!), I just want to end with this.  I don't view one person or a few people as most attractive, and then everyone else rates lower on a descending scale.  I appreciate a celebrity's, or models, or any random person on the street's appearance for what it is, and then it's over. Maybe we can do that?  Let celebrities be hot, let them sit in the make up chair for hours, or fast for days leading up to an appearance, and stop letting them set standards that we hold ourselves and those we care about up to.
Oh, and in case the woman who emailed me happens to read this, this is for you (by the way you are beautiful and awesome:-) :

 See!  Normal, just like the rest of us!


Linda said...

Oh, Sammy! Well said! I was in a bad relationship too, at one point and even though I was plenty thin and actually modeling, I felt awful about myself. I'm now 50 lbs heavier than I was then and so much happier because I know who I am and I like myself. I didn't know you struggled with body issues in high school. I always thought you had a lovely, willowy body and I wanted to be thin like you. You are still beautiful and I'm so glad you're using your life to help others feel beautiful too. :)

Samantha Peterson Yoga said...

Linda! You're beautiful too! Always were:-) It's nice getting to the point in life where you can like yourself, right?