20 Comments

My Strong is My Victory over the Skinny Word

****** read this disclaimer below please ******

Growing up in a world of Skinny

I reached puberty in the 70s.  The females who were hot, sexy, gorgeous and desired were Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, later Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista and hundreds of actresses and supermodels who looked like heroine junkies.

They were skinny.

I, on the other hand, was not Skinny.

As a young girl I was a round little butterball tomboy. OK, I was fat.

At age 11 I hit a growth spurt and slimmed out. I sprouted long legs and a figure that started attracting whistles from construction guys twice my age. I had always been an athlete. I had muscles. But still, I was not skinny.

Skinny, you see, was the thing I could never achieve. It was the size 0 models on TV and saturating the magazines.

They were not thin. They were Skinny.  Sticklike and very frail, and you could see their bones. They looked  almost skeleton-like without the magic of a camera. Their thighs never touched. Their diet, it seemed, was a salad and a gram of coke. Or, they had the coveted 36-24-36 Playboy hourglass figure, still with flat tummies and no bodyfat.

I had belly flab, no waistline and muscle. You couldn’t see any of my bones.

In real life, Skinny was the really popular girls in highschool who wore a size 0- 3 while I, stumbling along in that dangerous zone of popular-ish, was struggling to get into my 7s and 9s.

 

So I wore 7s and 9s. I wasn’t fat! But as a hardcore food addict, binge eater and severe food and body image neurotic, I compared myself daily to all this Skinny and in my own mind I came up FAT. Repulsive. Disgusting.

Even though I was an athletic tennis player, weight trainer and runner, I spent every single day of my life hating myself for not being Skinny. This is true.  I spent every single day of my life, into my 30s, hating myself for not being that very word.

Skinny.

I obviously have issues. I’m putting them out here. I take complete responsibility for my stuff and am not a victim. But I think other women relate.

Being a Grown Up

As an adult, it has been a long and excruciating journey to learn how to eat right, stay fit and most important, love my body. While the journey started at age 11, feelings of self acceptance and self love, and the ability to let go of ridiculously destructive eating habits and body image problems have only solidified in the last three years. I’m 48.

CrossFit and Paleo.

The very worst moment of Before: chasing the ups and downs of trying to be Skinny. After: Loving the ups and downs of training and the barbell.

In this new found state of physical fitness and (very imperfect) self love, I am strong. Not the strongest by any stretch. But I can throw around a bunch of weight and I have a lot of muscles.

I’m strong! And I love it!

The Question

So why would I want to proclaim that my gorgeous, delicious, healthy state of STRONG is the new Skinny – the new state of something I could never achieve, the new state of something that always hung over me as a source of complete, soul wrenching torment?

Why would I proclaim that this strong, fit, healthy muscled body of mine is the new something that is so patently, wholly unhealthy, unattractive, unattainable by almost all of us, and represents eating habits and lifestyles I know to be almost lethal?

Honestly, why would I want ANYTHING I celebrate as positive and beautiful to be the new Skinny?

My Answer

For me, Strong stands alone – glorious and beautiful – achievable by any woman, no matter if she wears a size 1 or 18, whether her bodyfat is 35% or 10%, or whether she has any other athletic abilities.

Strong is a healthy state of emotional, physical and spiritual being that celebrates working for and achieving your own personal best – whatever it is.

It is not a reflection of body size.

So whether my thoughts about this resonate with only two of you, or two thousand of you, or make me highly unpopular, I stand here as a woman whose happy, healthy state of strong is sexy, savage, and outrageously satisfying on it’s own. 

Especially because living  in this state of Strong and sharing this celebration of Strong with so many other women feels like Victory: heady, hard earned personal freedom from the negative, unhealthy chains of that awful other S word.

Serena Williams. Strong is Beautiful.

If you like this post or if it resonates with you,  please share!

***This post is a personal reflection on my relationship to the word skinny and is obviously prompted by the phrase ‘Strong is the New Skinny”. It is not, repeat, not, a criticism, attack or challenge to the SINS movement or its creators, who continue to grow by leaps and bounds their profound, amazing, positive impact on tens of thousands of people worldwide.  I’m dead serious about this.   Please view it as a personal celebration of Strong, a personal rejection of the word skinny, and that’s it. *******

About Eileen Schreiber

CougiePower. Woman in her late 40s dedicated to living life beyond prescribed & inspiring others to laugh. Dedicated CrossFitter. Real Estate Agent. Not to mention Facebooker. Creator of this blog so that you have access to the opinions and wisdom of some awesome women. One day you will stare into space and say "Damn, I wish I had listened to them. They were right".

20 comments on “My Strong is My Victory over the Skinny Word

  1. Love it Eileen! You continue to be inspirational…..I have been reading your FB posts since…gosh 2009? whe the Cougie stuff started… so entertaining…and thought provoking! then onto the Match.com stories…now you are married! so happy for you BTW. And you two make a great looking couple! ……….YOU are a force in my CrossFit Community…..and I love that you share some of your journey! You are one cool Cougie! :) thank you and keep it up! Lisa

  2. WOW! WOW! WOW! I can sooooo relate on so many levels. Well said Eileen. Thank-you so very much for sharing your journey!

  3. Thanks women. This is kinda like.. my manifesto. My statement about getting over all the negatives that happened to be attached to that very word. Happy you like it and hope it adds something positive to our international movement of strong.

  4. Awesome blog. I can totally relate to this. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!! YOU ROCK!!

  5. Love it! Strong stands alone. Greatest quote ever. Thanks for such a beautiful post!

  6. Reblogged this on Cavegirl Cooks and commented:
    Another reblog from another inspirational woman.

  7. Girl, I know exactly how you feel.

  8. I just turned 45 and am so pissed off that I am still dealing with my body image and food demons. I’ve done paleo and I’ve done crossfit, but I wasn’t successful at adopting a “me” version of them and since I couldn’t live up to the paleo and crossfit lifestyle (in my mind) I rebelled with binge eating and skipping exercise. I don’t have a weight issue. I am a size 2-4, at my heaviest a 6. But the emotional and mental anguish I go through on a daily basis is draining. I am constantly thinking about food and wanting to achieve the balance and perfection that others seem to have found. I want so badly to make peace with food and exercise and free my mind of the daily battle. I don’t know how to get there.

  9. Amy

    I think it is a myth that anyone with any type of food issue or body image issue reaches balance and perfection.

    I certainly have not. I struggle with it all of the time. Most days today I feel good. But the demons are always there and I think they will be for the rest of my life.

    There is no such thing as perfection. It is not even a goal to try to achieve. Please read my other blog post “I’m not perfect”.

    The only answer to any of this is: more self love. Each of us has to find a way to feel good about ourselves and those positive feelings lead to more and more. While I do not think I will ever be over my battles, I do know that it has become SO MUCH BETTER now and my life is not wasted by this obsession.

    you will get there!

  10. Thank you for this post.
    As someone who has struggled… who am I kidding? still struggles with this kind of thing a lot you’ve said two very important things to me – skinny is not beautiful (it’s downright unnatural!) and it’s *your* opinion that matters, not anyone else’s.
    Here’s hopin I can get my own version of this down!

    • Lablogotana

      To me, that is the point. In my eyes, the thing that I tormented myself with, the thing that I looked at and responded to with “that is good, I am bad”, is really, truly, honestly not attractive to me anymore. I look at skinny and I automatically think:

      omg, awful.

      And that is why it is so important for me to not define strong as the new that. Strong has always been healthy and beautiful. What I forgot to say in this post and now I may edit it, is that while I tormented myself with the S word, I also had a girl crush on Martina Navratalova – a female tennis player who was very muscular. I always knew strong was beautiful on it’s own, I just could never accept it for myself.

      It’s time we do!

  11. i gotta say, it dismays me to see so much negativity around the word “skinny.” Not everyone who is considered “skinny” starves themselves or lives on coke, cigarettes and coffee to get there. I’ve been doing crossfit for two years and have been about 85% paleo for almost as long and i’m having difficulty putting on weight. It turns out, I am naturally tall and slender, but i’m not this way because some magazine cover says that this is beautiful. It just is what it is.

    And as far as the Strong is the new Skinny movement — I jumped on in the beginning and i’m still a fan. What they’re saying is, while “skinny” used to be considered desirable and beautiful, now STRONG is considered desirable and beautiful — and that is not necessarily based on how i look but how i feel and what i am capable of. I understand that it’s cool now to be anti-skinny, but frankly,i’m offended by anti-anything. Just my 2 cents. I appreciate your passion and willingness to put yourself and your story out there to benefit others. Peace.

    • Jen
      Here’s the thing. I have a couple of very good friends who are skinny. I absolutely understand the problems they have. Everyone thinks they have it easy. Everyone thinks their strength is natural. They feel bad if they talk about any type of food or nutrition issues because people roll their eyes and say – like YOU have to worry. They CANT gain weight in a world that spends billions on “losing weight.”

      But Jen. That’s not my issue. That’s yours. My issue is that Skinny/Thin has been idolized and idealized as the pinnacle of beauty and desireability, and I’ve compared myself to that, and tormented myself for not being that. For not being you.

      I am not here to write your experience from my heart. I can only write mine.

      Write a post about your journey from your heart and soul. I’ll post it right up here with mine. I think the conversation around Skinny is what we all need.

      • Also Jen.. if Strong is considered desireable and beautiful, where are all the pictures of STRONG that are not SkinnyStrong? I went to the SINS facebook page and simply saved the first 10 pictures on the page for my collage. Every single one is was SkinnyStrong – not one pic of a woman who is more than 10-12% bodyfat.

        So while being PRO something and being positive effects change in the world, I have to define my issue first. That is my issue. If we SAY we celebrate strong and say it is not about a bodytype – SHOW ME STRONG that is not a bodytype!!!! DO IT. ACTIONS speak louder than words, and pictures are pretty effin strong actions in visual social media.

      • Eileen,

        A post from me regarding my experience around this would be a real snoozer — skinny or fat, strong or weak is not my issue. My issue is with the labels that we tend to put on ourselves or vilify, when in actuality, the real “issue” is problem with SELF. Why are we judging ourselves or anyone else for that matter at all? What size jeans i wear or how much i can deadlift has absolutely NOTHING to do with who i am. Or who you are. I’m more concerned with who have i helped today? What have i done today to make my little corner of the earth a better place? The photos of you today are beautiful. The photos of you “back then” are beautiful also. But they don’t tell me anything about who you are. I agree with you that the media, social and otherwise, portray ideal stereotypes – the main reason why i don’t watch tv or read magazines. I’ll be 46 years old this month and I’m not falling for that BS anymore. I don’t usually comment on blogs like this, but yours invited discussion. In my opinion, the larger, more important discussion here is when will we stop judging ourselves and “should-ing” all over ourselves???? Oh, I shouldn’t have had that easter candy……shouldn’t have drunk that coffee……should have worked harder…..etc…. LIFE IS SHORT! I’m guessing i’m not going to be lying on my death bed worrying about such things.

        And please, this is in no way a criticism of you or what you write. I like a movement that is based on self-acceptance and the acceptance of others – skinny, fat, short, tall, weak, strong….. I LOVE to see women feeling feeling better about themselves — i just wish we could do it without all the labels.

        • Jen. I think the short answer, for me, is that the issue of who I am is a big one. It isn’t easily reduced to one box. My actions in the world are a big part of who I am. How I treat others, how or if I make the world a better place is a part of who I am. (But please don’t tell me that right there isn’t already full of judgement – if I do or do not help or make the world a better place, is that better or worse, and in whose eyes?)

          Who I am starts with how I feel about myself. From there, I act. From the energy I generate – is it self hatred, self love, ambivilance? – I act. There is no action taken in the world that is not connected to the energy/feelings/emotions I produce.

          So, maybe how much I deadlift IS important to me in terms of how I define myself and how I feel about myself. Maybe deadlifting more today than yesterday allows me to feel very positive about something I accomplished, it makes me FEEL GOOD, and then I can use that positive energy to be more positive in the rest of the world.

          Maybe feeling beautiful helps me to be beautiful, and create beauty in the world that is not pre defined. It is a feeling of beautiful. It is allowing mysel and those around me the experience of beautiful.

          So before you decide that this or that has nothing to do with who I am, think about what that means. Is that true? It may be true for you, and that’s great, but not for me.

          By posting these things, I am getting the impression that I am helping others. By expressing things that others feel very powerfully and publicly, positive energy and positive emotions are generated in a lot of people. I’m thinking that creating positive rather than negative is the first step to any “good” I can do in the world.

          LOVE the discussion. your turn!

  12. Jen Coleman. I didn’t read this as anti-skinny but as anti-skinny-as-ideal.

  13. Count me as one of the two thousand. :) I am in a new-found place of accepting and *almost* loving my body, because I’m discovering for the first time (in my 30s) how strong I really am, AND how strong I’m capable of becoming! (P.S. I’m aware that comparing myself to ANYONE isn’t a great way to go, but WOW your arms are HOT.)

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