For a few weeks now, I’ve been seeing a picture on pinterest that freaks me right out. And you know, since I’m such a generous person, I’m going to share it with you, so you can be freaked out as well:
I clicked on it. Of course I did. I definitely shouldn’t have, but I did. It took me to a blog called MaKeover with McKi, written by a 22 year-old mom of two and competitive bikini model McKinli Hatch of Utah. It has the quality of a car wreck – you know you shouldn’t stare, but you can’t stop looking.
I’m sure McKinli Hatch is a very nice woman. She seems to work incredibly hard at her online business and her fitness routines. But let’s get real here: my body is never going to look like that lady’s body, nor should it. Nor should yours. That body is not an average body. It’s very thin, very tan, with very large (fake) boobs. She wakes up each morning and straight-away does an hour (!) of super-fast cardio, and then at night, she does weight training. She describes her diet as eating “clean,” which I think we can all safely assume means no cookies. Ever.
If this is your thing, bikini competitions and the like, have at it. Everybody’s got their hobby, right? I like knitting and gardening. This lady likes looking like Barbie. Cool.
I know there’s this pressure that comes from everywhere, from the media, from advertising, from TV, from clothing companies, to look like this woman or some form of her. Perhaps not quite as sculpted or as tan. But some version of a very thin, long-haired, doe-eyed sexy doll that comes with a lot of fancy clothes and shoes and bags. This pressure is coming all the time, from all around us, and it’s been coming at us for decades. For most of us, our entire lives. That’s really hard to shake, I know.
But let’s get real for a moment. I’m never going to look like McKinli Hatch. Nor do I want to. Nor do I want any of my friends to, and not just because I don’t want to have to stand next to them in public. That kind of body is completely and utterly unrealistic, and in my opinion, not safe or normal.
You know what I say to that picture? No thanks. Stop putting crap like that on your pinterest boards or posting it to facebook or bookmarking it because you’re determined that this is the year that you’re going to look like a bikini model at the beach. I’m all for being healthy and exercising and feeling good. But can we please stop torturing ourselves with these ridiculous pictures and diet tips and “quick and easy” routines? I’m just done.
Awhile ago, Liz and I went to King Spa, this completely amazing Korean spa just outside of Chicago. The wet sauna and hot tub part is completely nude. We were freaked out a bit. I mean, it’s not every day you just sit around nude with a bunch of strangers. And we are former dancers, so we’re less modest than most. Since Liz once made me where a white unitard, I think it’s safe to say that many people have seen more of me than they needed to, and yet, I was a little nervous.
It was weird for about the first two minutes. And then it stopped being weird. Everyone was just naked. No one was staring, but you couldn’t help but see naked people. It was just a room full of naked women. Normal-looking naked ladies. Everyone’s body was a little funny, and by that, I mean that they did not look like the perfectly sculpted (and airbrushed) pictures we are used to seeing in advertisements. But they were normal, functional, and dare I say, beautiful bodies.
I realized something that day. We are so used to seeing nudity (or near-nudity) in everyday life, but it’s never real nudity. It’s crazy pictures like this bikini model lady who must have a live-in nanny to watch her children during her hour of cardio each morning. We do not see actual women naked. We see fake, pseudo-nudity and assume that there’s something wrong with our own naked butts. There’s not. It’s very likely that you are perfectly normal. You just never would know it unless you put yourself in a room of other naked people. I highly recommend it.
I know it’s incredibly hard to overcome this weird pressure we all feel to look like these entirely fake women we are bombarded with. But let’s make a pact: no more pinning this stuff. No more blasting this stuff out to our friends. And for ourselves too. Try to stop looking at these pictures that we know are bullshit.
I know that’s impossible for the most part. We see these pictures whether we like it or not. Unless you never look at a billboard or a magazine or watch TV. I am not advocating total media deprivation. Otherwise, you could not read this blog, and I could not watch the season premiere of Pretty Little Liars. That would be a travesty. But when we have a choice, let’s try our best to say no to the McKinli Hatches of the world and try to take back a little space for normal-looking women.
I am guilty too. After all, I clicked through. I cocked my head sideways at the pictures, wondering if I could ever look like that if I really, really, really wanted to. I don’t, of course, but the thought still occurred to me. And every time I see diet tips and fasting plans on pinterest, it’s hard not to stare for a moment and wonder if I am the only one not making myself over so that I will look like I belong on the cover of Sports Illustrated at Foster beach this summer.
But then I will go to Foster beach, and I will see all the normal Chicagoans roaming about. Some in bathing suits a bit too revealing. Some old men walking around in what seem to be boxer shorts and suspenders. Children chasing each other, kicking sand up as they fly by. Moms trying to remember what it was like to go to the beach before it meant cleaning buckets of sand out of someone else’s crevices. We will all be there, our normal bodies doing normal things, and most of all, enjoying ourselves and maybe even having a cookie.
So, can we stop sharing these crazy pictures? I promise to stop. I really do. Now you. Go.
Note: I updated this post from its original version when a very wise friend of mine pointed out that some of the things I said weren’t very kind. She was absolutely right, and I apologize. So, I have changed some of the comments to reflect that I heard her words and took them to heart. Still, I stand by the message that promoting unrealistic bodies isn’t good for us as women or mothers, and I think it’s okay for us to say that, even if it means calling some else’s body an unattainable version of physical fitness and health.