Now not only does that obviously affect the mood and mindset of the person saying it, but it also affects the mood and mindset of everyone else in hearing distance. I wanted to write a blog about this topic because I started thinking about things people had said either about me or just to me. When I used to go to an exercise class and someone would point out their ‘belly’ or ‘wobbly thighs’ or ‘ginormous booty’, I would automatically think about mine! Whether I actually had any of those things or not!
What a lot of people don’t think about is just how much what we say, is going to affect the person who is listening. I remember when one of the group fitness instructors I used to frequent changed up the routine of the class, instead of being based solely on toning the body, she had added in a cardio routine designed to help burn fat. When I asked her about it, she said, “Well really, what’s the point in doing all this toning, if you can’t see it under all the fat.” Now, I know that, that statement was not said to me, I was just the one she was talking to, but I felt like she was saying it directly to me. As in, what is the point in YOU doing all this toning, if NO ONE can see it under all YOUR fat. Straight away in my head I thought, “Oh my god, I forgot about burning fat. How did I forget about that! No wonder I don’t look the way that I want to, no wonder I am not good enough yet. How could I have forgotten that I need to burn off the fat!”
All that from one statement said without any intention or malice.
Some of my other favourites include;
“You’re not a plastic fantastic, you’re a real woman and it takes a strong man to be with someone like that.” Said to a sixteen year old with body dysmorphia, that is trying to overcome an eating disorder and has a history of depression and self-harm.
“This exercise is really good for getting rid of those saddlebags.”
“Saddelbags, you know that layer of fat women get around the outside of their thighs.”
“Oh.” A discussion between sixteen year old me and a fitness instructor. I had no idea what a saddle bag was, or why having that layer of fat was a bad thing. Just that it was.
Every single one of these conversations happened in a fitness class. Every. Single. One. It really makes me wonder why I went into the fitness business, but then I remember that this is exactly why I went into the fitness business. To make sure that I was a fitness instructor and participant who knew the power of words, who would be careful about what she said. To be the instructor that helps people towards their goals instead of telling them what their goals should be. I don’t want to be the person who tells people how they should look and what they need to do in order to achieve it. I refuse to be the reason someone second guesses themselves in the mirror, or the reason they consider skipping a meal. I am taking control of my words and the power they have. I want women to support other women in their goals, whatever they may be. I want women to be proud of who they are and all that they have achieved, not just the size dress they wear, or the number they see on a scale. It is one of the biggest goals and hopefully achievements of mine I had when opening Whispers of Wellness to create a space where people of all shapes, sizes, cultures and ethnicities could focus on how exercise can make them feel, as opposed to how it can make them look.