Stop Judging, Start Empowering: What Needs to Change

I remember a long time ago when I started writing a blog post (that never made it to a blog!) about the phrase "meat heads." A coworker of mine that I'd always considered to be a pretty compassionate, non-judgmental person, came into lab complaining about the "meat heads" at the gym, and I just cringed. When did it become okay to judge someone's dedication and commitment with something that has such a negative connotation as "meat-head"? 

I never finished the article because I couldn't come up with much else to say at the time. And then this Article surfaced from the CrossFit community...

FRailty, thy name is woman?

The article, called "Frailty: Thy Name is Woman?," quoted an elite CrossFit athlete, Elizabeth Akinwale, saying somethings that, well, ruffled some feathers to say the least.  

“I share sponsors with some women who have never done anything athletically. They train ... and they post a lot of videos of their cleavage and stuff, and the camera angle going up toward their butt, but they are not successful athletes...So, while I understand it, it’s sort of frustrating. ... Are there any men (in CrossFit) who are sponsored who are just basically hot? I can’t think of any.”

Now, before I say anything else about these quote, please realize that it is taken out of context. If you're going to comment, I suggest you go to the original article and read the whole thing, or else, well, you'll just sound ignorant.

Akinwale goes on to say that she loves the CrossFit community, the fact that it has made muscles and strength sexy, and has given women a place where not only are they given equal pay and air time to their male counterparts, but given them a place where they are not stared at or gawked at when they lift a heavy weight.

Also, please realize that I am not a CrossFit-er (yet!). I would love to try it, but at this point in my life, financially I have never been able to afford a membership to try it out. But I avidly follow some of the top CrossFit athletes on social media, I watch the games, and have since 2013. Yes I've never done some of these moves, and I sure as hell have never competed. But my comments on this article are not related to CrossFit and what they do. I am a fan, and I can't wait until the day when I can try it. My comments today are related to one specific thing that Akinwale said that just rubs me the wrong way.  

“I share sponsors with some women who have never done anything athletically.”

Now, Akinwale did not call out ANY woman in this article, but our wonderful media sources have brought many women into this conversation who they believe fit the "post a lot of videos of their cleavage and stuff" category. These CrossFit athletes, who HAVE had success on the CrossFit stage I might add, include women like Jackie Perez (IG | Crossfit), Andrea Ager (IG | Crossfit), Miranda Oldroyd (IG | CrossFit), Christmas Abbott (IG | CrossFit), among many others. 

CrossFit Women: (L) Elizabeth Akinwale (Image source), (Top Middle) Jackie Perez (Image source), (Top Right) Andrea Ager (Image source), (Bottom Right) Christmas Abbot (Image source), (Bottom Middle) Miranda Oldroyd (Image source)

CrossFit Women: (L) Elizabeth Akinwale (Image source), (Top Middle) Jackie Perez (Image source), (Top Right) Andrea Ager (Image source), (Bottom Right) Christmas Abbot (Image source), (Bottom Middle) Miranda Oldroyd (Image source)

The problem I have with the shit-storm that this article stirred up is this - who the heck has the right to say that any of these women aren't ATHLETES?!?! Whether you're a fellow competitor, a salty blogger (I'm including my breed in here too!), bikini competitor, zumba fanatic, etc. I don't think ANYONE could successfully argue that these women, whether they're baring their cleavage or not, are not athletes.  

Women are VERY good at tearing each other down. And THAT is what this argument turned into. I don't think that that is EVER what Elizabeth Akinwale intended with her comments. If you read the article, I believe that her intention was to bring attention to the hypocrisy of the sponsorship process - the idea that men can be sponsored for simply being talented and not necessarily "hot" while women achieve vastly more sponsors if they are physically attractive. I think that's true - and would never argue any different from that. But to say that someone has "never done anything athletically..." and are "not successful athletes" comes across as bitter, judgmental and just plain wrong. Just because your definition of athleticism OR your definition of success is different than someone else's makes them no less of a successful athlete. 

I have a workout video and in it the trainer says: "You're an athlete! You might not be paid to be one, but you're an athlete!" and I think that's the point.

There are many women on this planet who are athletes! There are many people on this planet who are athletes, but to say that these people have "never done anything athletically" is hypocritical in my opinion. Just because these people haven't chosen to make their athleticism their livelihood, or have chosen not to dedicate their lives to competition - which, let's face it, can be grueling and is not for everyone - makes them no less of an athlete. 

I'm not disagreeing with what was said about female sponsorship. But what I am disagreeing with is the words that were chosen to convey this idea. We already have enough of a problem in this world of people judging people, and importantly of women judging women. It's a problem that we need to put to an end.

Dove Vs. Victoria's SEcret

Similarly to this, is the seeming battle between the DOVE vs Victoria's Secret Beauty Campaigns.

Firstly, the Victoria's Secret campaign, called the Perfect "Body" was a campaign for a BRA. Can I say that again please - it's for bra! I know I know that everyone got up in arms about it because it seemingly insinuated what these women have the perfect body. Everyone got all frazzled because it seemed to suggest that the VAST majority of women didn't have the perfect body...but really, it was about a bra!

Dove, though, decided to defend the honor of all the offended, more curvaceous women in America by launching the REAL BEAUTY Campaign. I get it. The idea is that they want to demonstrate to Victoria's Secret and society that there are other beautiful body types too and we should celebrate those. But, look at what they're suggesting! They're suggesting that real beauty comes in these shapes, not the shapes of those Victoria's Secret models. So isn't this the same thing?

Our society fat shames, skinny shames, curvy shames, etc. It's all shaming in one form or another isn't it? Isn't DOVE saying that those Victoria's Secret model's body types aren't "real beauty" because they aren't included in the picture? So, really, how is it different?

I understand! I get it! People who embrace and love their plus-sized figure, their curves, their size 00-ness, and long, skinny limbs....all of those people want to be included! All of those people want to feel accepted and beautiful in a society that is stuck on stereotypes. But isn't saying things like "real women have curves" being just as judgmental to the women that don't have curves as the VS campaign is being to the women that aren't model-esque?

What if we didn't let marketing or media influence what we thought of ourselves?

The bottom line is that both of these situations are examples where our interpretations of advertisements, marketing strategies, or the way in which something is skewed. Let me say that again - these are our interpretations.  These things shine a light on our insecurities, making us feel like we are less than what we are. 

So as a result, what do we do? Marketing strategists come up with a way to bring other people down to our level. They come with a strategy that the offended party can get behind...and that's exactly what happens. We get behind it, and the cycle of dis-inclusion continues.

But, why? Why can't we just realize that we ARE perfect in our bodies? Whether we love and accept ourselves or we are seeking to get in better shape and change. Why can't we just understand and embrace that love without feeling the need to single out those that aren't llike us?

You cannot change how people treat you or what they say about you. What you can change is how you react to it.

 

Yes, changes need to be made in the media and in sponsorship. That's a given. But, if we expect anything to change there, we need to first change ourselves. Period.

Women need to change the way they speak to and about each other. Women need to create a culture of inclusion, not defensive-ness and cliques created by stupid divisions like curves or no curves. 

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We need to change the way we speak to ourselves. We need to quit looking at those rolls in our stomach, thick thighs, whatever is we stare at, judge and critique and thinking of those things as a bad thing. We need to stop defining ourselves by our physical imperfections, and start realizing that our personalities and characteristics are of much more value. Whether you want to change your body, get in shape, or not. You ARE beautiful. And the moment you start believing that, the less of a need you will have to tear down someone else for their physicality. 

If we change ourselves, one person at a time, we will change society. Period. 

 

If you have a comment, disagree with something I said, or have your own opinion, please comment below! But keep it civil. If this stimulates a conversation, that's great. But if you get hostile, or derogatory toward myself or anyone else, I reserve the right to delete your comment.