As a woman, do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by expectation, both by yourself and others of your physical appearance?
Do you feel intimidated by media (particularly social media) expectations of what a woman "should" look like?
Maybe you feel you aren't "fit enough" despite being at a normal weight, consistently exercising, watching your food intake?
A male friend of mine asked if women really felt they had to care so much about how they looked... I said nothing sadly has changed in our media. Men are allowed to get old and women are expected to have eternal youth. There are the few exceptions in the public eye such as Judi Dench, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jamie Lee Curtis but the general emphasis is to remain young and in great shape, a case in point driven by a women's health magazine which had the front cover of a cosmetically altered Catherine Zeta Jones supposedly retaining her youth through the power of just a cream!
It's 2023 and expectations of women have never been higher. The curvy girl has gone, in the space of just a few years, with the preferred skeletal model on the catwalk.
It would be refreshing to actually just see women perpetuated for who they truly are, rather than the image that the media thinks we should see and live up to.
And whilst the fitness industry has flourished with "strong women", unfortunately, even that has become something manipulated through filters, women who are at their leanest but at their least maintainable selves, suffering orthorexia and are probably pretty unhappy. Fitness influencers who feel they have to get to being near naked (despite this having nothing to do with fitness) to get clients/promote their "brand".
Somewhere, we have to find a middle ground. One that actively promotes nourishing ourselves, taking care of ourselves and becoming ourselves.
I am not saying we stop caring about how we present ourselves or our health, but I am saying we should be allowed to embrace growing older as acceptable in our society in the same way a man does.
I feel few men (this is not to bash men by the way, I just recognise that most men would just not necessarily notice the pressure women are under) truly appreciate the amount of effort women go to on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, just to be "acceptable" in society. Whilst the reverse is often opposite. Including, understanding how much harder a women has to train and watch her nutrition due to her menstrual cycle or the effects of menopause.
There is a better way in my opinion and the more men and women band together to ask for change of what the media portrays or expects of women, by encouraging a healthy attitude to female aesthetics, the better.
Having worked in the industry for over 20 years I feel like I've seen it all. But I can honestly say it's only been in the last 4 years I've truly appreciated that when we rewire our brains, in order to make decisions that benefit us, not undermine us (from relationships, friendships, work and media) that we create a power for change in ourselves. Our well-being. Our health. Our fitness. Our happiness.
Your health and fitness starts with your mind. Not your body.
The more we make mindful choices of what we " feed" ourselves the more we change the algorithm... Both online and in our heads. If we all change the "algorithm", imagine how much we could change (influence) what we see in the media and what our friends, partners and colleagues expect from women.
It is human nature to care about how we look, the aesthetic, that will never change. But as humans we could try to be more understanding, accepting and willing to change our minds about creating realistic expectations of what women's bodies should look like at all ages. There is nothing wrong with trying to create the best version of ourselves. But there is something wrong when our media portray something as "real" when it is cosmetically or technologically enhanced.
How to start implementing this change?
Get rid of anything on your social media feed that seems too good to be true, influencers that make you feel negatively about your own body, unreal body transformations that have happened in a matter of weeks not months or years, "clean eating" or detox/juicing etc diets. If any of these things resonate with you in how it makes you feel about your own self worth, they are probably not worth the follow.
Find influencers who encourage a more positive attitude to body shape, nourishing food posts, overall well-being tips such as breathing, recovery, meditation, stretching, fitness techniques, positive or uplifting stories.
Also, look up other interests, maybe you like dance or piano players or someone creating things out of wood or tiny homes.... Vary up your feed with stuff outside of the norm.
To rewire our brains to become normal and rationale human beings we need to have a variety of information from different spaces. Don't let your social media feed consume you. Make it work for you, not against you.
You have the power to change.