I recently went along with some of my girlfriends to an event at Third Space gym in Canary Wharf, which I genuinely thought was going to be another fitness meet-up. It was called ‘Educate. Empower. Inspire’ and aimed to reclaim the true meaning of female health and fitness. The event was completely different to what I expected and I took so much more from it. This was testament that the event was run by the amazing Anna Sward, founder of Protein Pow and the #GirlGains crew, Zanna, Vic and Tally.
The message of the event was to recognise that health and fitness comes in all shapes and sizes, but we wouldn’t necessarily know it by looking at the way in which the media objectifies women’s bodies, and how nutrition products are marketed to women.
Women continue to be misrepresented and bombarded with terms like ‘bikini body’, which distorts the way in which a healthy and fit body is depicted, and all too often understood. More so now with social media getting women to focus their energy upon ridiculous ‘fitspiration’ imagery, and take onboard these damaging messages – sometimes to the detriment of their own mental and physical health.
The event had great a line-up of inspirational speakers including Jacqueline Hurst and Nicola Jane Hobbs who shared their personal journeys, but also promoted the importance of self-love, self-confidence and how we must be more mindful in how we internally talk to ourselves. They also explained how we can begin to break those perpetual cycles that we continually find ourselves looping around, and the importance of setting the right types of goals and not focusing on an ideal or image which is completely unrealistic and unobtainable.
What hit home for me from the event, was when one of my friends turned and whispered to me “I’m so glad I have a son and not a daughter” after listening to one of the speakers share her personal story. Although boys and men are of course affected by eating disorders and mental health illnesses such as depression, the female imagery of body beautiful and being ‘bikini body’ ready are continually streamed throughout our society. As I looked around the room, I saw lots of young females in their late teens and twenties who must constantly feel that they must have to live up to these unrealistic ideals.
As a ‘young’ 37 year old female these images are still impressionable and last year I admit I threw myself into a 12 week ‘bikini body’ fitness plan. With absolutely no let up in achieving a figure that was not sustainable in the long term, I left no room for socialising with friends and eating out, but I had a six-pack so that’s all that matters right?! Absolutely crazy behaviour for a supposedly intelligent female, with an awesome career and a master’s degree. It doesn’t matter what age we are, we can still revert back to those bad behaviours and continual self-doubt, striving for perfection at any point especially if our self-esteem or confidence is low, as mine was at the time.
Jacqueline Hurst hit the nail on the head when she asked the audience what would happen if we just didn’t care about what we thought about our bodies? What would happen to all of these brands that rely on us to keep beating ourselves up with undertaking the latest fad diet or exercise regime?
I left the event feeling a huge amount of positivity, and with the risk of it sounding like a Spice Girls convention, the room was full of positive energy and ‘Girl (em)Power(ment)’ vibes. The biggest take-away message for me is to always surround yourself with positive people, talk to yourself how you would talk to your friends and family, give yourself self-love everyday and always focus on the good. If we can do that we can enjoy life, our friends and family, but most importantly our bodies.