I read an article today discussing the rapidly changing, often warped culture that we have created with regards to beauty and what it means to be a girl. It seems like everywhere you turn these days, women are bombarded with images of not only what is considered beautiful, but what they can buy to make themselves beautiful whether that be blue jeans or botox. Sex and the sexualization of women is used to sell everything these days! And the unfortunate thing is that this image is trickling down in watered down versions (and sometimes blatantly NOT watered down i.e. Bratz dolls) to our teen and pre-teen girls. But from where did this culture evolve? According to this article, or rather according to author Peggy Orenstein, it all begins with Princesses.
Orenstein is the author of the new book, Cinderella Ate My Daugher: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. In Orenstein's opinion it is societies obsession with this "every girl is a Princess" attitude that is setting up our young women to view themselves as worthy only as long as "they are the fairest of them all". According to Orenstein, the more a girl is exposed to this ridiculous ideal, the more apt she is to develop eating disorders, low self-esteem, distorted body image, and depression.
Another article I read on ABC News.com said that Walmart is introducing a new line of cosmetics......for 8-12 year old girls! While I personally don't see anything wrong with little girls having fun dressing up and putting on play make-up or collecting fruity-flavored chap stix alla Bonne Belle or even getting their toes done, it's something quite different for a company to market make-up to tweens for day to day wear. What kind of message are we sending these girls? That they already aren't good enough without enhancements? What if we could give our girls a different kind of beautiful?
Every day, whether I like it or not, I am a role model. I have an 8 year old step-sister. I am a part-time coach at CrossFit Katy, a gym where half of all our clients are women. I live in a neighborhood with over 10 school-age girls on my block alone, and just this year, I became an aunt to a beautiful little girl. And I take this job very seriously. Because it's my desire to change the image of beauty for all of these women and I am not alone.
I CrossFit. I run laps, lift weights, jump boxes, flip tires, do pull ups, push ups, squats, drag sleds. I use my body in all its capacity to accomplish amazing athletic feats and because of this I have thighs that don't fit into skinny jeans and shoulders that can't be contained in cute little blouses but I am beautiful. I am beautiful in a way that doesn't require Prince Charming to come and rescue me and this is the kind of beauty that I want to share with the other women in my life. Does that mean that I intend to de-sexualize the culture that envelopes us or our girls? Well, not really. Anybody who has seen me workout or compete or even sees me in day- to-day life can't miss the fact that I don't mind showing off my body. I am an avid Lululemon Addict and love nothing more than rocking out a workout in a brand-new pair of Speed Shorts or Wunder Under tights and a matching sports bra. I am proud of the muscles that cut across my back and the definition that I have in my stomach. I think it's sexy. I think muscles are sexy. I think women that lift weights are sexy. I think prescribed pull ups are sexy and handstands and muscle-ups. CrossFit has not and does not intend to eliminate the sexualization of women. I believe CrossFit aims to change the very definition of sexy into something positive and empowering and that is something that I am proud to represent. I want the women in the gym to be proud of their hard-earned muscles and feel sexy when they lift a barbell above their heads. I want my little step-sister to think that being beautiful is directly correlated to what your body can accomplish. I want women to feel empowered as I feel empowered.
I recently got a very much appreciated invitation to attend the Form3 Women's World Tour in Austin, Texas on February 5th. As taken from their website, the purpose of the Women's World Tour is to bring women of the community together, provide them with space to become inspired, motivate women to dream big, to become their most powerful dynamic selves, explore, create, and take on new territories of their life, and re excite life where staleness has moved in. It's a full day of motivation and inspiration and I hope to learn even more ways to inspire the women of my community by attending this event.