Let’s talk about the thigh gap

I have a confession to make. On a good day, I have a thigh gap. By definition, this is when there’s a gap between one’s thighs when they’re standing up straight with their feet together. Sometimes my thigh gap is there in the morning but gone by afternoon, only to return again the next day. And guess what? The world doesn’t stop turning when my thigh gap disappears. I don’t feel like I’ve suddenly failed at life, nor do I feel like I’m a better person when I have one and a worse person when I don’t. Essentially I’m still the same person, thigh gap or no.

It makes me sad that something as trivial as the girth of a woman’s thighs is the focus of so much attention, when more important qualities aren’t given much attention at all; qualities such as honesty, kindness, humility, compassion, and empathy. Who cares about that? Apparently, as long as you’ve got a thigh gap you don’t need to worry about being a good person.

You may have seen Target’s butchered images recently, where the poor girl had her labia and half her vagina removed to enhance an already-existent thigh gap, as well as having other parts of her hacked away or stretched out. You may have also seen       this short clip, which shows how Photoshop can transform a healthy looking woman into some kind of a human Barbie doll. There’s even a website and accompanying book instructing you how to eliminate that “chub rub” once and for all. I don’t know about you, but I would never want to “lose bulky overdeveloped muscles” in pursuit of a thigh gap.

These are the messages that girls and women are bombarded with every day, from all directions, it’s hardly any wonder we suffer from physique anxiety as much as we do. It’s a tricky issue; on the one hand, I know how good it feels to truly be comfortable with the size and shape of my body, and how much confidence this can bring, yet, on the other hand, striving to look like something that is literally impossible (like a heavily Photoshopped image) will only bring heartache and disappointment.

The only person you should ever compare yourself to is you. You will always and only ever be you, so to try to be somebody else is a waste of time. And your version of being comfortable in your own skin is probably going to be different from the next person’s – it’s an individual thing – the size and shape where you feel most comfortable in nobody’s business but your own.

Have you ever seen a woman walking through a crowded room, head held high, shoulders back, confident and completely happy with who she is? She is beautiful, regardless of her hair colour, skin colour, age, height, or the girth of her thighs. Does she have a thigh gap? Who bloody cares! She certainly doesn’t. Compare that with another woman walking across the same room, shoulders stooped, gaze cast down at her feet, tugging at her clothes self-consciously. It’s easy to see that this woman doesn’t love herself. Technically, she may be a beautiful woman, but she doesn’t see it or believe it, and that makes it very hard for other people to do so.

I think it’s about time the media started focusing more on the meaningful stuff, like why it’s important to be beautiful on the inside, and less on the superficial crap, like thigh gaps. Because, let’s face it, sooner or later we’re all going to lose our looks, and if there’s nothing else to us what will we be left with?

 

Advertisements

Gotta have goals

I don’t want to bumble along from year to year, going with the flow, not really moving in any particular direction, just drifting. I feel like I frittered away a good chunk of my 20s doing just that. Now, finally, I can see a clear path in front of me, and the distance between where I am now and where I want to be is still pretty big, but I can see the steps I need to take to get me there.

To that end, I’ve come up with a series of goals for the year that I’ve emblazoned around the edges of my wall planner for 2014. The wall planner allows me to see the whole year on one page, next to which is the calendar which shows each month, next to that is a whiteboard which I draw up each week, and next to that is my diary for the day-to-day stuff; how’s that for organisation? Seeing as we’re already into the second quarter of the year it’s about time I wrote about this. Below are my ten goals for the year, in the approximate order that they came to me.

DSC04124

Do nutrition coaching course

In the (otherwise awesome) personal training course that I did in 2012 we spent all of half a day talking about nutrition. Since then I’ve completed a short diet and nutrition course by correspondence, but it still wasn’t enough. I have a brain that loves to learn, and I feel it starts to stagnate if I don’t throw new stuff at it on a regular basis.

In the pursuit of health, I believe that the way one eats is a more powerful tool than the way one exercises, and that exercise alone often isn’t enough – the nutrition has to be there as well. I also think that the way that I eat is generally excellent, but that doesn’t give me free license to push my eating habits on others. I want to back myself with science, not “Mum and Dad taught me to eat this way so it must be right”, even though they are both very switched on when it comes to nutrition, for which I am eternally grateful.

So, I’ve enrolled with Precision Nutrition, a Canadian company, to do a nutrition coaching course which is split between the science of nutrition and the art of coaching. My textbook has arrived and I’m keen to get stuck in and do some learning.

Find somewhere to live in Mot

I can tick this one off already as I’ve just moved from the wop wops of Mārahau, where I’ve been for the last year or so, to the big smoke of Motueka (population 7500). All my work is in Motueka, so it makes no sense to have to drive for half an hour to get to it, especially when I often have an hour here and an hour there with down time in between; I was starting to feel like a bit of a hobo.

Increase client base

I’m not putting much energy into this right now, as I’m waiting for a few things to happen first. But once I’m ready to take action I’m confident I’ll get the results I want.

Get a brain job – NO MORE HOSPO!

I could write an entire post on why working in hospitality sucks, but it would be an angry rant filled with bad language, which is not really my thing. Anyone who’s worked in hospitality knows how bad the conditions can be and how demeaning it is, and for someone who has loads of great skills (me) it’s particularly demoralising to not be realising my potential.

Over summer, where I fell into the hospo trap yet again, I reached my limit – I thought I’d already reached it several times, but this time I really reached it – I knew that if I didn’t leave I would break something, or someone, or internally combust. So I left. And as a result it freed up my time to pursue more meaningful work, work that inspires me rather than kills me a little bit more inside each day I do it. I’m currently in the process of securing a contract to do some research and writing for someone who’s writing a book, now that is exciting!

Save money for a house

With all the other things that are going on this year, this goal isn’t a high priority. However, I have finally joined Kiwisaver, so in a way I have started saving by doing that.

Take Christmas and New Year’s off

Over last year’s holiday period I ended up working a lot and only had about two days off in 14, which left me feeling pretty hard done by and like everyone else was having fun except me. I was stoked that my clients wanted to train right through but it occurred to me that I might need to take a break from them. This year I won’t be working in hospitality so it’ll be easier to take a decent break, from everything.

Learn about trigger points

I’m really excited about this goal. I’ve had a few massages from a friend who works with trigger points and have been amazed with the results. The basic premise is that pain is often referred from other muscles, so the place where you feel pain is not necessarily the source of the problem; you need to work backwards to find the muscle that is tight, and release the tension there. I’ve experienced this three times so far: my elbow joint hurt because a forearm muscle was tight, the inside of my knee hurt because a muscle in my inner thigh was tight, and my inner ankle hurt because my calf muscle was tight.

I’m going to write another post soon about these as I think they’re really fascinating, but for now, suffice it to say I’ve bought the trigger point manual and I intend to read it from cover to cover and to learn as much as I can about trigger points because let’s face it, being in pain sucks, and you’ll never alleviate your pain if you’re missing the point, literally.

Make knees less saggy

Yeah, yeah I can hear you all laughing, this is a very shallow and vain goal, but it’s my goal and it’s important to me, nonetheless. I don’t know if it’s from the thousands of knees I’ve thrown with my Muay Thai practice, or if it’s just another sign of aging, along with the grey hairs that I endlessly pull out with tweezers but refuse to cover with dye, but my knees are saggy and I don’t like it. My skin, in general, seems to be eternally dry, so maybe if I make a concerted effort to rehydrate it my knees will hike themselves back up too.

Ditch shampoo

There’s enough pollution all around me that I can’t control, like radiation form cell phones and Wi-Fi, without me consciously putting chemicals on my head. I want to minimise the junk in and around me, but I also want to look good too – what a calamity! On a good hair day (these occurs rarely) my hair forms loose, frizz-free ringlets that look pretty cool. On a bad hair day (these occur frequently) my hair is an unruly mess – greasy at the top, dry at the bottom, and a tangle of frizz in between.

I’m getting married in just under two years and I want to absolutely have a very good hair day on my wedding day, and I want it to be a lot longer than it is now, so about now is the time frame I need to be working at to make sure this happens. Shampoo is shit. It strips all the natural oils out of your hair so that your scalp goes into overdrive creating more, which you then strip off with more shampoo, which you then send down the drain and, eventually, out to sea. Recently I’ve experimented with a rosemary and honey mixture but it was a lot of work and the result was less than ideal. For now, I’m using this product, which works very well, but unfortunately has a long list of dubious ingredients.

Type Mum’s book

This is more of a to-do than a goal, but I am keen to get it done this winter. Mum doesn’t own a cell phone or a computer or even have an email address, so I’m her main link with technology. Her ‘book’ is a thick wad of handwritten pages held together in a ring binder, decorated with arrows and stars and crossed out sentences. It’s the story of her life, from her arrival by boat from London at the age of three, growing up in the 50s and 60s in various parts of New Zealand, deaths, births, living in grass huts in the Hokianga… I’m not born yet so I’m yet to see what she writes about me. Her writing is descriptive and often flowery, and the way she lived is so different from the way people live these days. It’ll make a great read, and we hope to publish it eventually.