When you hear the word, “Personal Trainer” most people instantly think fitness. They believe “this person has the tools I need to help me lose weight and get in shape”. That is completely true, however, it goes so much further beyond that. Weight and body image are just cosmetic compared to what is really going on in someone’s life. Your body can tell me part of the story. For instance, whether you have had past injuries or if you were leading a pretty fit lifestyle and for one reason or another just got side tracked and need help finding your way back on the horse. It may be you have had major stress going on and have used food as a coping mechanism. For most people the issues are rooted much more deeply than just in weight gain/loss. As a trainer, I have found my clients need me to be just as much of a therapist as they do someone to kick their butt. I feel blessed to lend a listening ear.
I have realized in my years in the fitness industry, specifically dealing with a mostly female clientele, that once women leave high school/college, they lose track of friends and their support system of women. Let’s face it, most have neighbors, or coworkers, or maybe a friend here or there, but actually getting un-judged, unbiased support from another woman or group of women is rarely heard of. I’ve seen firsthand how women are increasingly more emotional creatures than men. So, you have women who need support, and someone to listen, and more times than not they have no one to do the listening, so they turn to other outlets, such as food, when all they really want is to be able to get some things off their chest, because let’s, face it, we all lead stressful lives.
This has led me to reflect on “women” as a culture. The word culture is rarely used when describing sexes. Quite literally, “Culture” is “a way of life of a group of people”. Going back hundreds and hundreds of years, women were their own culture. There were tribal groups and the men would go out hunting for days, weeks, or even months at a time. This left a village of women and children. Women were at that time most certainly their own support system and culture. In Bedouin tribes in the Middle East, often still to this day, when a woman goes in to labor, it is a celebration for women of the tribe. Tents are erected and all the women of the tribe congregate inside and dance, and eat, and belly dance around the laboring mother in support of her for sometimes days on end until she delivers her baby. During this time, the men, the husbands, even including the laboring woman’s, are not allowed inside the tent. True beauty of sisterhood, women supporting women, being WOMEN. Imagine that.
However, in our modern day America we have lost that ideal completely. We, as little girls, start judging and competing against each other, at such a young age. We start backstabbing and talking each other down instead of lifting each other up. Whereas several decades ago, families had the mommas, and grand mommas, and the aunties all aiding in the raising of daughters. This is a practice you just don’t see that much anymore. Often, there is even tension amongst the women within the family unit. What has happened to women as a culture? Boys and men have somehow managed to still bond together, even if not in family units. Gang members even create their own “family” often made up of young men whose fathers weren’t around as children. How it is that women have lost their way?
Not only are young girls competing and judging each other at a younger and younger age, they are also comparing themselves against unrealistic expectations. Having both a son and daughter of my own, I’ve watched and taken notice that boys are not nearly as critical of themselves nor do they judge quite like girls. Little girls are comparing themselves to other little girls, and even young girls they see in magazines and on TV. This only gets worse as they grow up. Suddenly those little girls have become grown young women with an unhealthy body image who don’t cut themselves an inch of slack. Internally, we all criticize and compare everything we do.
Can we reverse this trend? Why are we so judgmental of ourselves and each other? Everyone needs support, and often that woman next to you is drowning in some aspect of stress within her life, not to mention the loneliness of not having someone just to listen to her. Somewhere, deeply rooted within us is a memory of the sisterhood WOMEN once shared. Imagine if we could return to that. Imagine how our world could change. We not only would make stronger, more confident daughters, but as a whole culture, women would be stronger. How do we begin? Start within yourself. YOU are beautiful. YOU are strong. YOU are enough! YOU can do this…whatever this may be. Cut yourself some slack. Find the sister hiding deep within yourself and remember her the next time you look at yourself or another judgingly. One positive thought has a vibration frequency that can only bounce back. We can make a difference…one woman, one gesture, one compliment at a time.