body image

The world is overrun with reality shows like Say Yes to the Dress, popularity of bridal bootcamps at barre studios, and the idea that you will look the best you ever will on your wedding day. It’s harder to shake the idea that the engaged woman should be toiling through circuit training, eschewing gluten, and aiming for this idea of wedding day perfection. I signed up for the Pure Barre Bridal Special; I’m not immune. And I liked the cute “bride to be” barre socks that came with it. 😉

However, my focus lately has been on better time management and creating healthy eating habits rather than hitting the barre or the Minuteman Trail. I’ve started walking more instead of sitting all day (and expecting an hour of barre to counteract that). I pack lunch instead of running out to Berkeley Perk Cafe for a sandwich. One triumph: resisting junk food snacks and free food in the teachers’ lounge when I’m not actually hungry. However, this is difficult at lunch duty with the 8th graders. Our custodian is somewhat of a Renaissance man, and he often cooks up creations such as venison, pork chops, sausage and onions, oreo truffles, and potato soup in the cafeteria, then offers these creations to the teachers and students.

Yesterday, I went down to lunch duty having already eaten the tofu red curry I’d brought from home, and I turned down a pastrami sandwich from the custodian. As soon as I uttered the words, “I already ate lunch, and I’m on a wedding diet” I realized how very un-immune I was. I wanted to snatch the words back from the ears of the 8th grade girls who like to sit with me every single day. One of them said “why are you going on a diet? you’re skinny!”

There it went: the dreaded “S”-word.

I often encourage my female students to eat healthy and try sports so they will maintain positive body images. I tell the girls who join Running Club so they can “impress cute boys” or “get a hot butt” to focus on improving their speed or to set a goal to finish a 5K. I worry that their motivation and self-worth becomes too entwined in what boys think of them or in comparisons to girls who post thigh-gap pictures on Instagram. I want them to look up to me because of my teaching, not my Body Mass Index.

I’d indirectly praised the exact thing I wanted to tear down from its pedestal: the Skinny.

That was an eye-opener for me–I can say all I want, but contradictory actions undo the best-intentioned words. I’m going to keep building the healthy habits versus the mentality of “sweating for the wedding.” As June 28 approaches, I’m not going to put my self-worth in how I look in that white dress. I’m glad that my 8th grade lunch buddy didn’t immediately agree with my statement or ask “ooh can I do it too?” Don’t sleep on the younger generation, people…sometimes they will teach you more than you can teach them.


  • shelby

    This is a great post and very true! I work very hard with each of my clients to get them to a place of adopting a healthy lifestyle for the point of being just that fit and healthy! Not skinny. It’s a bad cycle us women tend to be on- one diet after another instead of enjoying the wholesome natural food on earth and loving our bodies

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