Alicia Capetillo, Editor at SparkPeople 10/6/2017
Every month The Go Get It Guideis your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!
Smile: Happy Tears
Sometimes life is scary and depressing and just plain sad. Whether it's a tragic event, a news story or just a bad self-esteem week keeping you down, we can all use a reminder that there are uplifting stories and beautiful people out there doing beautiful things for this world.
This month, Ellen DeGeneres delivers with a video montage of her favorite stories of everyday heroes. If you're an Ellen fan, you may have seen some of these stories (as a Saints fan, I have the Drew Brees and best friends story bookmarked for days when I need a good cry.). Watching these videos all at once, watching the kindness of strangers, of friends and of people for eight minutes is an important reminder that there are good, great and selfless people in this world. It's also a good reminder that you should always keep tissues at your desk because I forgot and ended up wiping my face with my shirt sleeve until it was drenched.
Last month, two stories reminded me that, as many of us can relate, celebrities also endure harsh body image critiques. After the birth of her daughter, tennis superstar Serena Williams penned an emotional and powerful message to her mother, thanking her for all of the lessons and strength she learned as a result of her mother's influence. The letter focuses primarily on how her mother made her proud of her curves, her muscles and what her body is capable of achieving, rather than feeling insecure about being too big or too masculine.
She writes, "I am proud we were able to show them what some women look like. We don't all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: we are women and proud!" She notes that her baby girl has her arms and her legs, which makes her fearful that her daughter might undergo the same body criticism she's endured since she came on the professional tennis scene in 1995.
Then, in a story in ESPN the Magazine, Seattle Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy opened up about years of internet trolls casually, often cruelly, reminding him of his weight via social media. For years, people commented on his love of Chinese food, calling him fat and doing things like photoshopping his stomach to make him look like Santa Claus.
"Ever since his weight became a public topic during his four years in Green Bay—which included two 1,100-yard seasons—Lacy had read those kinds of comments and brooded in silence, convinced he couldn't win," the article says of Lacy, who grew up in Louisiana and found food to be a comfort after losing everything in Hurricane Katrina. "Responding would only give his tormentors a smirk of satisfaction, knowing they'd wounded him. If he worked hard, got back in shape through yoga and P90X, maybe then the jokes would fade. Except they didn't fade. If anything, they multiplied."
It's easy to think you're the only one with body image issues. After all, with everyone's social media feed full of joyous photos and "Great news!" updates, it certainly appears that people seem to be more confident than you could ever dream. But those are pictures and words on the internet, not reality. Our bodies are with us forever and each one responds to outside factors—exercise, healthy eating plans, stress—differently. We stress that what works for one body doesn't always work for another because it's the truth. There will always be those people who can eat whatever they want and somehow lose weight, and there will be others who look at a doughnut and have to buy bigger pants.
So whether you're an elite athlete dealing with internet trolls and rude reporters, the girl next door who hears the boy next door commenting on a belly roll, or a confident-on-the-outside executive who still can't get over feeling like their thighs are too thick, it's good to remind yourself that most everyone has some big or small issue with their body. You're not alone. Trolls are usually trolls because they're hiding an insecurity themselves and feel it's easier to be mean than to own up to their issues. The next time someone makes you feel bad about the way you look, invoke the powerful beauty of Williams or the strength of Lacy or the confidence of any number of body positive ambassadors, cast their (wrong) opinions aside, smile and know that if Serena can be better than the digs and critiques, so can you.