Yesterday, I went to my in-laws’ house (que the horror music) to help them move furniture. Both of my in-laws are well into their 60’s and unable to move well, let alone move other objects well. My father-in-law also has Parkinson’s disease which, 3 brain surgeries and multiple medications later, has left him on a walker and sometimes crawling. Needless to say, my in-laws need our help.
It was a humid 85 degree day so, naturally, I wore a razor-back tank to handle the move and other miscellaneous things. As I walked out to my mother-in-law’s car to unpack her groceries, I caught her glancing at my arms. She scrunched up her little nose and made a comment, “whyyyyy, Nast, you’re aaaaarms)….they are sooooo…. big!” I quickly answered, “ya, it’s all this guy’s fault,” pointing to my husband, Dave. I proceeded to make a B-line to the house to avoid any further conversation about my arms, the weather, about anything pertaining to life! Of course, I did this with every grocery bag in hand; I wasn’t going back for more.
We finished moving the furniture and we were finally able to make it home with a couple hours to spare before hitting the bed early. As we sat watching a movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about my mother-in-law’s comment made earlier that day. I thought about how I normally don’t put too much thought into the criticisms of others, let alone my mother-in-law, but this day was a little different. Were my muscles that big? Was I working out too much? Is that not attractive? Is my butt too small? What does my butt have to do with my arms? What do guys find attractive anyway? Then these words blurted out of my mouth, “Dave, am I pretty…even like this?” I wanted to cry!
Ask 20 people to define beauty and you’ll get 20 different definitions. Is it really in the eye of the beholder? Is that just a cliché? What if the beholder isn’t into the same things you are? If I asked you to take a moment to think about it, the last time someone called you beautiful, it made you feel good. You felt confident; like you were on top of the world. Perhaps they called you beautiful because you were wearing makeup, or a dress, or because you moved gracefully. Maybe they thought you were beautiful because you lifted a beastly amount of weight. Whatever the definition, beauty does define our world. If you don’t believe me, open up any social media site and take a look at all the “selfies.” Better yet, just go to your local gym!
People are fanatic about working out. Women, in particular, go to the gym and spend millions on fitness videos, foods and fads every year. Despite all of these efforts, they still pick on themselves and other women. ALL. THE. TIME. As a CrossFit Level 1 trainer and high school girls track coach, I constantly find myself asking the athletes, “Who are you comparing yourself to?” I remind them to compare your today self to your yesterday self. Or I say things like, “remember last month, when you could barely do a push up, and now you can do 10 in a row!” I often remind them that one of the strongest words in the dictionary is the word, “remember.” When you forget your worth, remember your goals, remember the commitments you made to yourself, remember, remember, REMEMBER! And it is a constant, daily battle we fight within ourselves; no one gets a freebie from this fight. Just as I was writing this, I wondered, what does my mother-in-law think when I wear tank-tops? I answer my own thoughts: “Why do I care?” And, “who’s helping who move furniture anyway?!” Then I get angry and think, “I hope I can move this stuff myself when I’m 65!” Or, “Why don’t you take that beauty and shove….” You get the idea. It’s a constant battle.
Perhaps it’s our job to redefine beauty. And maybe we need to get mad before we do it. Beauty, to me, is muscles. My muscles, like my scars, tell a story. The story begins with scared, little girls who turn into confident, tank-top wearing chicks. Beauty is about doing something that makes you uncomfortable every day. It is a 30 year old woman who steps into a box and has the courage to take off her shirt for the first time. Or the fact that she came to the gym in the first place is beauty enough. Like the day with my arms; I walked away defeated from that battle. I forgot about the commitment I had made to myself to become stronger that year and all of the countless hours it took to achieve “those arms.” The struggle was part of the story, but I needed something to remember. So, naturally, I went to the box. And I saw beauty in its truest form: warrior-chick women who battled MS, ones who have overcome cancer, who’ve lost weight, ones who have gained a self-image – and there I remembered my story. I got one of those side grins because I knew I was about to make a decision (probably one that would piss off a lot of people). I decided that I’m going to wear my tank top every chance I get around my family. Maybe I’ll even move some furniture while I’m at it.
Nastaran Whitson has been a life long athlete and specializes in running. For help with running or for a personal session, contact her at email@example.com.
CrossFit SOAR is a CrossFit Affiliate serving Bergen and Passaic Counties, including the towns of Fair Lawn, Glen Rock, Hawthorne, Paramus, Ridgewood and Wyckoff. At SOAR, you will finda an inclusive community offering more that a workout; we’ll provide you with a CrossFit Family. We provide a range of programs, including traditional CrossFit, Boot Camps and Kid/Teen fitness programs. The first class is always free, and there are never any long-term commitments.