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Redefining Beauty

18 November 2013

"TBH I think you look much better and more feminine and curvey in the first pic at 145LBS, 
Your boobs are all but gone and your body looks quite boyish."
-Anne Duffy,,
commenting on this post

Well, Anne Duffy, you get two prizes.  One for leaving the first negative comment I've ever received, and another for being clairvoyant.  How did you know I had a post brewing about redefining beauty?  Thoughts kept floating around inside my head, asking me to write them explore my changing I felt about it, and the reaction of others.  If you thought I looked boyish before, how do you like this picture?

When I started Crossfit, here's what I thought would happen: I'd slowly lose weight, I'd slowly gain muscle tone, and I would eventually reach a point where my body looked it's best.

Never in a million years did I expect to lose weight so quickly.
Never in a million years did I think I would gain muscle so rapidly.
Never, ever, ever did I think my boobs would shrink to the point where I bought smaller bra sizes...twice!
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would like working out, and want to do it for its own sake.

Like most people, I started exercising for vanity's sake.  I got the surprise of my life when I learned that I actually really enjoyed working out.  Growing up, I always avoided running and anything else that felt like strenuous exercise.  I'd see my friends running half marathons, or doing pilates, or joining a beach boot camp, and I thought they had some gene that I was missing.  "Good for them," I thought, "but that sounds like torture."  Turns out, I just hadn't found the right form of exercise for me.  Now some of the most enjoyable hours of my week are spent at the Crossfit gym.

I like feeling strong.
I like having more energy.
I like the mood boosting effects of exercise.
I like having a community focused around healthy eating & activity.

But when I look at the picture above, do I think "wow, she's beautiful."
No, I don't.  But I want to.

Truth be told, my body now more closely resembles the bodies of a few girls at the gym that I silently judged when I started Crossfit.  I thought to myself "they look too manly," "their muscles are too big," "their boobs are too small," "I bet their husbands don't like the way they look."  I'm not proud of being such a shallow, judgmental person, but I do want to be honest about it.  I think part of me was simply jealous that they were in great shape and could do things that I couldn't.  My defense mechanism was to tell myself that it didn't matter because I wouldn't want to look like them anyway.

You see, as women, we are trained very early on to have a very limited definition of beauty.  There are some definite constraints that look something like this.

Not only do we struggle to accept our own bodies, but others like to comment on {and silently judge} our bodies as well.
My husband has made comments like "don't get too strong," and "where'd your boobs go?!  (Haha!)

I've heard that I'm....
"too skinny,"
"thin...not skinny, but thin" {is that a compliment?  I'm unclear.}
"looking awesome"

and everything in between.  I think when it comes to body image, people subconsciously project on you.  They project their insecurities, or desires, or hang-ups, or opinions.  It's been an interesting observation, and I'm learning not to take these comments so personally, whether they be good or bad.

My biggest learning {so far} in this process, is that we are all doing the best we can with what we have.  I really believe this to be true.  Strength and fitness and weight loss looks different on everyone.  Some of the strongest members of my gym don't look very muscular.  Some of the people with the best speed and conditioning, aren't as strong.  My ass disappeared as I lost weight...then I remembered...I never had an ass!  Seriously, growing up I never did.  The only reason I got a {small} one in recent years, was due to weight gain...and it was covered in cellulite.  So now my backside is flat again...which is apparently the way God intended it.  I'm doing the best I can with the body I was given. 

My goal is to look in the mirror and be happy and content with what I see.  I think it's a conscious choice, and some days I'm more successful than others.  I want to keep doing the things that make me feel good.  I want to be proud of the outward result of my hard work.  I want to redefine beauty for myself.

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