Welp. 

I wasn’t expecting to go on another tirade so soon but here I am. In the past few days, a post from CrossFit Athlete in the SoCal Region, Jamie Hagiya, has gone a bit viral. It was shared by the CrossFit Games, and today (June 30) even by People Magazine.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 3.48.50 PM

This means that the picture Jamie posted, of her healthy, strong, and fit body, is now on the computer screens of people way outside of our little community. Jamie’s post reads as follows, and you can find the original post on the CrossFit Games Facebook page.

“I’m going to address something that has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s a hard subject for me since I struggle with body image issues but here goes nothing.

“My body does not look like all the other ‪#‎crossfitgames‬ female athletes with crazy ripped abs and zero body fat on their stomachs. I wish I could look like that, but I’ve come to the realization that this is my body. 

“I work my ass off in training everyday. I eat clean for the most part, but am human and love to indulge in dessert every now and then. I’m in the best shape of my life and still don’t have a six pack. Not even close to a 4 lol. 

“Some of it is genetics and the other part is I could eat less calories to try to look like everyone else. But the bottom line is I need to eat to perform. I can’t worry about trying to look like a “Games” athlete because having a six pack doesn’t always make for the best athlete. 

“So for anyone who thinks they need to look a certain way to be a Regionals or Games competitor, you don’t. Stay on the grind and keep doing you!”

Now, I’m into this post for a lot of reasons. One of them being that it’s true and needed to be said. CrossFit did something great for women. It showed us that we didn’t need to be tiny, frail, rail-thin, and uber-skinny to be sexy or beautiful. It showed us that strength, athleticism, capability, and muscles were actually acceptable, too, and just as sexy, desirable, beautiful. If put function over form. It put what your body can do over how it looked. Then something happened.

CrossFit athletes on social media. We get bombarded now with, instead of photos of skinny models, photos of chiseled, eight-abbed, ample glutes, thick strong thighs, and cut backs and arms. We see all of our favorite athletes, doing the sport that we do, turn into greek gods while we remained mere mortals. Is this truly something better? Are we now desperately trying to get an 8-pack instead of a thigh gap?

As a nutritionist who is also a CrossFit coach (admittedly, I don’t coach very much these days), I struggle with this myself.  I feel like I need a certain body composition, a certain level of ab definition in order to be taken seriously as someone who knows what they’re talking about. We live in a world where it seems that abs = credibility, and it can be difficult to ignore.

Jamie’s post made a few things clear. You don’t need to look a certain way to be a great athlete OR a great coach. You don’t need to have a six pack. Somewhere along the line we decided to equate leanness, rippedness, and six-pack-ness with skill or knowledge. If someone has a six pack, that doesn’t mean they know how to help YOU lose body fat or get healthy or develop a six pack. Just because someone has a six pack doesn’t mean they know how you make YOU a great athlete. Abs do not equal expert. Abs do not equal athleticism. You don’t have to look a certain way to be great and you don’t have to look a certain way to help OTHERS be their best.

To Jamie – not that she’ll ever see this – thank you. Thank you for being candid. For your honesty and for showing us that there are lots of ways to look and that even the top 1% still struggle sometimes.

People Magazine picking this up to share was exciting. WOW. A major publication pushing the idea of truly strong women in an effort to help the ladies with our body image. I scrolled through the comments and it was LOADED with positivity.

She looks beautiful.

Strong is sexy!

I love her body!

Then I saw it. I’m not sure what disappoints me more. That it was said at all, or that it was said by a woman.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 3.49.27 PM

 

“I don’t know why you would want to look so manly…” 

 

Now if I’m being totally honest, I’ll tell you two things. 1) I really debated wether or not to block out this persons name because quite frankly, I think if you have the balls to insult someone’s body on public social media, you can handle being publicly pointed out as an asshole for doing it. 2) My initial instinct was to respond with, “Go fuck yourself.”.

In an attempt to take the high road, I did none of those things. I did respond, however. As did others. Things like:

“Muscles don’t necessarily mean manly FYI”

“I think by manly you mean dedicated, ridiculously strong…”

“It’s a good thing she doesn’t live her life to appease you then.”

“Her body does not exist for your approval.”

My final response is one that I will share with you here:

“It’s really a shame that you took a post about a woman handling and getting over body image issues to insult her body. I’m sorry for whatever made anyone who commented something negative feel that they needed to do that. Sometimes “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is worth remembering.”

That’s what I want to talk about today. Not that this person felt that she just HAD to comment with her negative opinion, and that I think she’s a real shit for doing that. But that this is something that happens all too often. When did we decide that we have the right to give our unsolicited opinion on other peoples bodies? Who the fuck do we think we are?

Your body is PERFECT, Christine? Zero flaws, huh? EXACTLY the ideal for every single fucking human being? NOTHING that someone would criticize? Wow. You must be the first ever in existence. Bravo for you. You should have many children to spread your perfect genes as far as possible.

For that matter, how about this?  If you find yourself wanting to comment something negative about someone else’s body on social media, to give your unsolicited critical opinion, first you have to post a picture of yourself in a bikini and we all get to give you OUR opinions. Seems fair. Before you get to lash out with, “you look like a dude”, “you’re fat”, “I would never want to look like that.” You get to get a little taste of it yourself. You get to feel the sting of insults from complete strangers who know nothing about you. If you get all that, you get every little thing we want to pick apart about how you looks, and you’re cook with it…then fine, go ahead and you can post your nasty comment.

Maybe as we all move forward, any time we find ourselves wanting to comment ANYTHING about someone else’s body we should think to ourselves, “Would I want someone to post this on MY page, about MY body?” If the answer is no, keep that fucking mother bitching bull shit to yourself.

I know. I know that people who say shit like that are acting from a place of insecurity. Truly, the only reason that anyone would have to comment some bullshit negative nonsense on a post ABOUT BODY IMAGE would be because they are suffering from body image issues themselves. As much as I want to simply dismiss these people as idiots and assholes, I can’t. The truth is they need compassion. It’s hard, but it’s true. Negativity towards others truly comes from a place of negativity towards oneself. To anyone who commented with something negative on Jamie’s post, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever sadness it is within you that makes you feel the need to try and diminish others to make yourself feel better. I hope that one day you get past this.

In the mean time, let’s agree to remember an old adage that we’ve all been taught from the time we were small children:

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”

Nothing is added to the conversation by negativity.

Nothing is gained by being mean.

After my mini-rant on Facebook, a reader showed me an article about parents discussing dealing with children who tattle on each other. The parent in the article shared that when one sibling came and told on the other she would ask them, “Are you telling me this to be helpful or hurtful?” What a way to think about it! If we always asked ourselves, 

Am I Writing This To Be Helpful or Hurtful?

I bet you that a lot of those nasty comments would go unposted. Why? Because if you say, outloud, and admit to yourself that you’re writing something in order to be hurtful, it’s likely that you’re not going to want to do it. If you still do, then well….you’re just an asshole.

It’s fine if you feel that way about muscular women. It really is. The look isn’t for everyone. Try to remember though, they’r not necessarily chasing a look. They’re chasing a performance. That’s something that I think we forget all too often. We’re so used to exercising ONLY for aesthetic purposes that we can’t even fathom the idea that someone would do it for athletic purposes.

That’s fine that you think she looks manly. She’s not a man. She’s a woman. A strong, bad ass one. She also doesn’t look that way by accident. She didn’t look that way over night. It wasn’t by chance. It wasn’t a fluke. It was on purpose. Those muscles that you turn your nose up at took years, and years, of hours upon hours of training. They took dedication. They took diligence. They took going to the gym to squat instead of going out for drinks with friends. In choosing the grilled chicken and sweet potatoes instead of the pizza. Of picking a full nights sleep instead of a late movie date night. Sacrifice. Struggle. Work. Planning. All for the goal of being one of the top athletes in her field. Which she is. She earned those quads that you think are too big. Those biceps that scare you. Those shoulders that you think are too broad. Every muscle has a purpose. Every muscle was worked for. Every fucking muscle was EARNED.

What did you earn today?