Beauty is…climbing mountains.

I was never athletic growing up. I did beauty pagents and McDonald’s commercials. Not soccer and softball.

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You know that beautiful quote, “She believed she could. So she did”? I have loved that quote for many a moon.

But today I did not believe I could. But I did.

She didn't believe she could.

 

We are lucky to live near several parks and recreation areas. We have bike trails out the wazoo. One such trail leads to one such park– a state park that is riddled with hills. It is where cyclists go to die. Leading into the park, there is a mountain. Ok, we are in central Missouri, so it is really more of a hill. Anyhoo, I decided today would be a good day for a nice 20 mile ride. It has been a while since I have gone that kind of distance, and I would really like to participate in a “metric century” (67 mile bike ride) in the summer. So I though today was the day to do some training. I hoped on the trail and planned to head in the direction of the big scary state park. I knew I was not quite ready for the hills therein, but I thought I could handle the road TO the park. As I happily coasted down the never-ending hill that led to the park entrance, it dawned on me. I would have to turn around at some point. I would have to go UP this beast. Not going to lie. At that point, I cussed a little.

Flash back to TWO summers ago. In another state park near us. My husband is patiently teaching me HOW TO RIDE A BIKE. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. My 30 year old booty was on a bicycle seat for the first time. I got to the point where I could go straight. But turning was out of the question. And those little pillars at the beginning of trails that indicate cars are not allowed– they were terrifying. I was sure I would crash into each one. And I did hit a few. I would walk my bike DOWN hills lest I get to going too fast and loose control. I would walk my bike UP hills because my legs just could not do that. I was a mess. Not even a hot mess. Just a mess. But I kept peddling.

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Today that hill seemed to have no end. Going up it, I remember thinking at least three times, “Yeah, I can’t do this. Pull into that driveway.” But then that driveway was behind me. So I thought, “OK, at THAT sign I am going to have to stop.” But then the sign was behind me. Why wasn’t I stopping?! I literally NEVER told myself to keep going. I never said “You can do it self! Slow and steady! You got it!” There was literally NO positive self-talk. And then, I was at a flat bit. And the mother of all hills was behind me. What just happened?!

When I got home I texted my husband: “I climbed the hill outside Babler!” He expressed File_000his pride. And I realized that these physical feats mean a lot to me. I was never athletic growing up. I did beauty pageants and McDonald’s commercials. Not soccer and softball. The lessons I learned doing those things were many: Eye contact is a lost art, casting does not have time for your silly questions (for real though, don’t ask Danny Goldman what your motivation is), it feels damn good to command a stage (even if you don’t know you are doing it at the time), practice practice practice, be articulate (those interviews, man!), go to every audition no matter how “small” the part is, win gracefully, loose gracefully, and always ALWAYS thank the judges.

What I didn’t learn then is what I get to learn now– the awesome things my body CAN DO! Did you know I can run?! I got that handy “Couch to 5k” app last summer– and I ran 3 miles straight MULTIPLE TIMES! I even got the “Couch to 10K” app in my exuberance. I got up to about 5 miles STRAIGHT. But that shiz takes a long time. Now I’m back to nice little 2 milers. And I can RIDE A BIKE! Those things are crazy– just two little wheels holding you up! Like high heels, but scarier! Because stilettos can’t go 20 miles an hour. Human bums were not meant to sit on those little seats for long periods of time. But we do! Because we can!

I have spent a while saying things like, “I’m not a runner, but…” or “I’m not a cyclist, but…” I think that is toro poo-poo. Do you run? Yes? You’re a runner. Do you pedal a bike for any distance at all? You are a cyclist. I bought my bike from a second-hand bike/coffee shop. I do not have those cool, but so easy to make fun of, padded shorts. Sometimes I forget which finger to use to change my gears correctly. But I am a cyclist. Just ask that hill outside of Babler.

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Motivation Monday: Listen to your body

Get out of social media and mainstream news and start experimenting with what works for your body and your lifestyle. Here’s a simple plan to help you Define Your Fit…

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Let’s start with a little background: You are currently helping women (and men) find strength and balance in their lives. Tell me a bit about what led you to where are now. What challenges have you faced along the way?

I’ve been in the health and fitness industry for close to a dozen years. I knew it was my passion when I was in a cadaver lab in college and saw the inside of a healthy body that died of natural causes and an unhealthy body that died prematurely from a heart attack side by side. I got to feel the difference in the organs of someone who exercised and ate healthy versus someone who drank and smoked all their life. The difference was incredible and jaw dropping. That image has inspired me to educate women (and men) on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.

I consider it a privilege to work with people to help them understand how the body moves and how to move it pain free. It’s a privilege to be invited along on someone’s health and fitness journey. I feel the most alive when I get to see those changes happen right before my eyes.

For so long I would train the man or woman who just wanted to look good (which I’m sure is most of us). I helped them to lose weight and fit into their little black dress but, I started to realize that something was missing. For me, that missing link was digging deeper and helping them to gain strength from the inside out. In my life, that inner strength comes from God. So, after many years in this industry I have finally found that my niche is Christian woman and teaching them what the Bible says about their bodies and where their strength comes from before they learn it in the gym.

The biggest challenge for me was identifying my ideal demographic or niche. Originally I just wanted to help everybody (kids, elderly, athletes, cardiac patients, moms etc). I got as many certifications as I could and marketed myself as a trainer to anyone who needed one. That was actually a disservice to my clients because I couldn’t be everything to everyone. There are very few trainers who can be amazing at training the entire population. You eventually find that you are better at relating to a specific group of people and you can serve them the best.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was little I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I went on my first plane ride and realized I was terrified of flying (not to mention I am also horrible at math). The only other thing I wanted to be was a mom and today I’m blessed to have adopted 4 beautiful children!

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You mention on your site that you are a “recovering perfectionist.” Tell me a bit about that– what habits were you in and how were they affecting you? How did you move from perfectionism to acceptance?

I’ve always been very driven by success. Unfortunately my personal definition of success was “to never do anything wrong.” That often left me either feeling like a failure all the time or it left me doing nothing at all for the fear of failing.

That type of thought process produced anxiety and depression in my life that I couldn’t get rid of on my own. Once I started building a relationship with Jesus and understanding what the Bible says about who we are in His image, I truly realized that I don’t need to be perfect because I never will be. I don’t need to try harder to be accepted, I need to accept God’s love before I try anything at all.

What is the best song to sing in the shower?

LOL. I have to honestly say that I don’t think I ever sing in the shower. I will have to give it a try. Maybe your readers can leave me suggestions and I will follow up with how it goes 🙂

What is the best piece of advice you have heard? What was the worst?Self talk

The best piece of advice I have ever heard is described like this: When you change your self talk from ‘I have to’ into ‘I get to or I choose to’ you can change your whole life.

The worst piece of advice I have ever heard is “Everything will be ok because God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” That’s bologna. We are given things on a daily basis that are bigger than we can handle. Chronic stress is the result of things bigger than we can handle. The truth is that God doesn’t give us things bigger than HE can handle. When we trust in Him and what His word says, it helps us to understand what the “handling” process looks like.

How do you spend your down time? Favorite books, shows, movies?

I probably spend way too much time on Facebook. I love to read too many books at one time and I always have to have a highlighter with me when I’m reading. My favorite types of books are non-fiction. I love reading anything Christian based, self-improvement, leadership or business type books. My husband and I end our nights by snuggling on the couch with a few Netflix shows. If it’s his night to pick it’s a boring documentary. If it’s my night to pick it’s a romantic comedy or cooking show.

If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be and what one question would you ask?

My great grandma Ida. I only knew her when I was a young girl and it was well before I came to know the Lord. My grandma (her daughter) always tells me how proud she would be of the Christian woman I have become. She told me that my great-grandma read through the Bible several times in her life. I would love to have coffee with her and ask her to tell me about her faith journey.

Kristen

What is your definition of beauty?

I think we’ve all heard the quote that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I believe that beauty is in the eye of the Creator. In my life, the Creator is God and He specifically tells us that everything He made is beautiful. I believe that with all my heart. You’re beautiful and I’m beautiful and no one can tell us any different nor can anyone take that away from us. And, don’t you ever forget that someone else’s beauty doesn’t make you any less beautiful. We get too caught up in comparing ourselves with each other and forget that there is enough room in this world for everyone to be beautiful.

someone else's beauty

Your list of certifications and continued education pursuits is impressive to say the least. What motivates you to keep learning more?

Like I mentioned earlier, part of it had to do with my unattainable strive for perfection and success. Part of me thought that the more knowledge I had, the more successful I could be. I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t ever “enough.” So, I poured my energy into education. I don’t regret anything I’ve learned, but I do regret the reasons why I pursued education so relentlessly.

Since my masters is in education I obviously have a love for learning. I don’t think we should ever stop learning and I hope to always be a student in some sort of capacity. What I have come to appreciate now is that being a student and learning something new doesn’t need to come with extra initials after your name. 🙂

What did you have for breakfast this morning? What is your guilty pleasure?

It’s 10:30am right now and I haven’t had breakfast yet. I’ve had 2 cups of organic coffee with stevia and I’m finally starting to feel hungry. If I wake up and I’m not hungry, I won’t eat. Some days I love a big breakfast and other times I enjoy what’s called Intermittent Fasting. I listen to my body more than following any type of plan.

My guilty pleasure is anything with dark chocolate.

listen

It is National Fitness Month. What do you want people to know about health and fitness. How can someone get motivated to make healthy changes?

Everyone is a health and fitness expert these days. You can’t log onto the internet or walk through a grocery store magazine aisle without being told what to eat and how to workout. The information overload is insane and leads people to just not doing anything because they don’t know where to start.

What I want everyone to know is that YOU are in complete control of creating your own definition of health and fitness. Health and fitness for me is a meat & veggie heavy, lower carb lifestyle with some high intensity kettlebell or barbell training 3-4 days per week. I feel really good at 18% body fat and feel sluggish when I get up over 23%. This is what makes me feel my best. I know I need to change things up when I’ve had too many processed carbs (or glasses of wine), when my joints ache and when I feel groggy in the morning. I don’t do well with dairy, coconut or almonds. This type of plan won’t work for the runner or the mom who just gave birth or the 75 year old with arthritis or the vegetarian who loves yoga.

Get out of social media and mainstream news and start experimenting with what works for your body and your lifestyle. Here’s a simple plan to help you Define Your Fit:

Define your fit

  1. Define your whatwhat is it that you want to change with your health? Is it your weight, your dress size, your strength, your endurance or maybe your doctor has said if you don’t change anything you will have a heart attack in the near future.

  2. Define your whywhy do you want it? Your why will keep you going when the going gets tough. Dig deep and don’t be afraid to get emotional with this one.

  3. Define your how how are you going to make this happen? Will it require a nutrition overhaul? Will it require 3 days of exercise per week or more than that? Do you need to purchase a gym membership or equipment for your home? Maybe you can just start with bodyweight exercises.


Get more from Kristen:

KristenEkiss.com

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All of the images I used in this post are right from Kristen’s website. Aren’t they gorgeous?!

 (the edit in that last picture is mine)

Beauty is…radiant authenticity

May is National Fitness Month, so all month we will be talking to women who inspire health and happiness #MotivationMonday

According to her site, Shauna is a nerd, a jock, and a hip-hoppin’ yogi.

She holds degrees from Stanford, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins.

She is an athlete who is sponsored by Under Armour and teaches fitness classes all over the bay area.

She is also a scholar, with a PhD in Public Health.

In June, Shauna will be in Arizona speaking at the Girls For Progress conference, an even that was created by a 12 year old girl to inspire girls to change the world.

Now that is beautiful.

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Photo by Dana’s Eye Photography www.danaseye.com

 

 

Can you share one of your favorite memories from growing up? When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Favorite memory growing up was the day I got into Stanford. When I was little, if you asked me what I wanted to be, I would’ve said, “I want to go to Stanford.” Clearly, not the answer to the question, but that’s all I could focus on.

On your site you describe yourself as a jock AND a nerd. What were your most challenging experiences in each arena? What got you through them?

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Photo by Matt Roy Photography www.mattroyphotography.com

 

Physically [aka as a jock] the most challenging things have been in body acceptance, which I struggled with more when I was younger, but is still a constant challenge now and dealing with injury. I don’t know that I’ll ever “get through” the body image thing, but I definitely get better at letting it go. I focus more on what my body can do, rather than what it looks like and that has been game changing for me. Dealing with an injury as an athlete is always traumatizing, often more mentally and emotionally than anything else. Again, it’s about refocusing attention from the fact that I can’t do something to what I actually CAN do and how amazing the body is at healing.

On the nerd side, the most challenging was very distinguishably my PhD. By far, it was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it taught me the most about my ability, work ethic, mental and emotional strength, relentlessness, and endurance. It’s a lengthy process with tons of steps along the way. Looking too far ahead was incredibly overwhelming, so I had to be present with where I was, put my head down, ignore any doubts and just work my ass off. Those are all things that I continue to apply now.

You are a health and nutrition expert. What is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t allow guilt around food, so I don’t have one. I am ok with eating whatever in moderation and with consciousness.

What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?

Best: Write your own rules. Worst: I don’t remember probably because I just stopped listening!

Pepsi or Coke?

No, thanks. 😉

What is the best song to sing to in the shower or when you are alone in the car?

Anything 90’s rap.

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Photo by Matt Roy Photography www.mattroyphotography.com

What is your ideal state? (In a perfect world, what are you doing? Where are you living? Who is surrounding you?) How will you get there?

I am currently living in my perfect world for me at this moment. That may change in the future, but this is where I’m supposed to be right now and this is what I’m supposed to be doing, so it’s perfect for me!

Just about everyone has something they want to improve about their health or physical state. How do you recommend they get started?

Find something that you like or that piques your curiosity. If you don’t like it, you won’t do it. Period.

What is your definition of beauty?

I think there’s beauty in authenticity. There’s something about when the inner heart and soul comes shining out to the rest of the world that is magnetic and magic. It’s when you wear your inner you on your physical body. It’s radiant authenticity.

Beauty is... radiant authenticity
Photo by TRX Training. www.trxtraining.com/yoga (Edits mine)

 

 

Beauty is…resilience

I feel the most beautiful when I watch myself in the mirror during physical therapy. I feel so much pride when I see myself mastering things I never thought I would be able to do again after my amputation like standing or walking. I see resilience in the mirror and I think resilience is beautiful.

 Being a mom is not easy.

Being a mom before you enter college is hard.

Being a mom and going to college is harder still.

Being a mom, going to college, spending the better part of a year in the hospital fighting Ewing’s Sarcoma, and losing your leg as a result? Impossible.

But this mama is doing it.

Irene

 

Who you are: Irene Blum

 

What you do: Mom, college student, childhood cancer and limb loss awareness advocate.

 

Where you do it: Stamford, CT

 

Tell us your story.Motivated

I was born and raised in Stamford, CT. I used to play softball, volunteer at my local hospital, and was very social. I got pregnant at 16 years old. I had my son Jason during my senior year in high school. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I wanted to be a good role model so I became very motivated. I worked in social services helping at-risk youth and went on to study at the University of Connecticut. When I was 20 years old I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of pediatric bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. I had to stop working and going to school because my treatment was a year of high-dose chemotherapy and countless surgeries. I had many complications along the way, the most significant one resulted in an above-the-knee amputation. I have been in remission for 10 months now and am very blessed to be alive.

You have had more than your fair share of challenges and trials. What do you consider your biggest challenge? What got you through it?  

Jason (1)My biggest challenge in life was my battle against cancer. The chemotherapy drugs I was given were so toxic that I became debilitatingly sick. I spent nearly 10 out of 12 months inpatient. I was working so hard to just stay alive that I couldn’t be the amazing mom that I wanted to be to Jason. I went from being his primary caregiver to being lucky if I could see him during weekend visits at the hospital.

Treatment became so brutal that the folks at the hospital called me “Murphy’s Law Girl” because everything that could go wrong, did. I wanted to quit so bad and just go home to be with my son. My doctors talked me out of quitting because they would remind me that if I did, the time spent with Jason would be short because Ewing’s Sarcoma is aggressive and would most certainly return with a vengeance if I did not finish my protocol. If I finished treatment, I could return home and live a fulfilling life with my son with little chance of relapse.

If Jason weren’t here, I would have quit treatment because it was torturous. I wouldn’t be here answering this interview if my son wasn’t born… Fun fact: The name Jason means “the healer.” I definitely feel like he popped into my life early and unexpectedly for a reason. Another reason why I am lucky to have him is because my cancer treatment ruined my reproductive system. I am technically infertile. I would love to have children in the future but will probably have to adopt.

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Image from Parade.com

 If you could have coffee with any woman, historical or living, who would it be and why?

Mayim Bialik because she’s brilliant, progressive, outspoken, and has a great sense of humor.

 

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Image from filmandtvnow.com

 Who is your favorite Disney Princess?

Mulan because she was one tough chick. Instead of being a damsel in distress, she protected her disabled father from going to war and saved her entire country.

 

What is the best song to sing to in the shower or when you are alone in the car?

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?

“You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first,” was the best piece of advice I have ever received. The worst would probably be, “don’t do chemo, just pray and eat papayas.”

Good advice, bad advice
Good advice vs bad advice

What books or TV shows do you think everyone needs to read/watch, like, right now?

Grey’s Anatomy is my all-time favorite show. Grey’s is the best part of every Thursday. Jodi Picoult is my favorite author and after going through treatment, I re-read “My Sister’s Keeper” with a newfound appreciation for it and was moved to tears multiple times throughout the book.

What is your definition of beauty? Or, when do you feel most beautiful?

Going through treatment taught me to find beauty in absolutely everything. I define Rainy daybeauty as anything or anyone that provokes positive emotions when you look at it/them. Before cancer, I would look at a rainy day and think “jeez, what an ugly day.” It was a rainy day in March when I got discharged from the hospital after being inpatient for nearly 5 months. I cried tears of joy as I felt raindrops on my bald head. A year later, I still look at rain and remind myself how much joy rain brought me. I can look at a rainy day today and think, “what a beautiful day.”

I feel the most beautiful when I watch myself in the mirror during physical therapy. I feel so much pride when I see myself mastering things I never thought I would be able to do again after my amputation like standing or walking. I see resilience in the mirror and I think resilience is beautiful.

Beauty is...resilience

Beauty is…believing that you can do it.

She believed she could. So she did. And that is beautiful.

Meet Heather: blogger, entrepreneur/fan of alliterations, mother of four. And all around rock star.

She recently embarked on a journey to get healthy. Since starting her journey nearly 3 months ago, she has lost nearly 40 pounds and a whopping 70 inches! And she is only half way to her goal!


Beauty is...believing that you can do it.
“A flashback to me last June, hiding behind my kid in a photo so hating to take family photos. Me today, because Zak said “Cute outfit mom! Lemme take a picture!””

Now, obviously, she is looking great. But that is not the point.

Heather’s youngest kiddo is a toddler. In the not-so-distant past, he took off running down the street. And she. Couldn’t. Catch. Him.

Obviously, that was unacceptable to her. The thought that her son could be hurt because she physically couldn’t get to him was just not ok. So, she got to work. She made her health a priority. And it isn’t just her body that has changed, her whole outlook has shifted. Were as before, a trip to Disneyland might have seemed like more work than it was worth, she now looks forward to such trips. “I just started being more up for doing everything we like to do. Like going to the beach, Disney, whatever. It doens’t feel like such a schlep everywhere. I’m boosted with energy. The nutrition is amazing.”

Oh, and her little one? He can’t get away so easily anymore.

She believed she could. So she did. And that is beautiful.

Beauty is…finishing

Along with a throng of other elementary schoolers, this beautiful strong little lady read 26 books, ran 26 miles, and did 26 good deeds for Go! St Louis’ Read Right Run.

Along with a throng of other elementary schoolers, this beautiful strong little lady read 26 books, ran 26 miles, and did 26 good deeds for Go! St Louis' Read Right Run.
Along with a throng of other elementary schoolers, this beautiful strong little lady read 26 books, ran 26 miles, and did 26 good deeds for Go! St Louis’ Read Right Run.

This little lady (along with 100s of other little ladies and fellas) reached an exceptional goal. Through the Go! St Louis Read, Right, Run program, kids all over the St Louis area read 26 books (the Read part), did 26 good deeds (the Right part), and ran 26.2 miles (the Run part). What I love about this event is that it celebrates WHAT these kiddos did. 26 books, deeds, and miles is no small task. But they did it! And they learned dedication, time management, and stick-to-it-iveness (yeah, its totally a word) along the way. They set a goal– a pretty lofty one if you ask me– and then they obliterated it.

Now that’s pretty darn beautiful.

To learn more about Go! St Louis and their various events promoting healthy families and healthy communities, visit their site:

GO! St. Louis Home

Beauty is…motherhood (sorta)

“I feel like I gave moms a voice and I feel like I encouraged them to be OK with their messy lives”

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Meet Elisha Wilson Beach. And her 11 month old daughter, Nolan. Elisha made some waves on the inter webs recently when she posted this shot on her Instagram.

Now, say what you will– but here’s the thing. Moms wipe snotty noses even though the mere thought of snot makes them gag. They clean bloody wounds even though they can’t stand the sight of blood. They change the poopiest of diapers even though they can’t stand the smell. And when their babies are hungry, they feed them, even though they are kinda in the middle of something.

What I love even more than this shot is some of the feedback she received (“Been there, done that” one lady wrote on Elisha’s Instagram) and her response to her critics:

“I feel like I gave moms a voice and I feel like I encouraged them to be OK with their messy lives,” Elisha says.

“I see so many moms doubting themselves or feeling judged for what they do, whether they’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, a formula-feeding mom or a breast-feeding mom,” she said. “I want moms to be confident in the choices they’re making and knowing they’re doing the best for their kids.”

Mom’s lives are messy. But Elisha is right, we are all doing the best we can. And we are all in it together.

Get the whole story here

http://www.today.com/parents/breast-feeding-mom-sparks-controversy-honest-photo-t17216

Beauty is… knowing your own strength

There’s nothing more beautiful than a strong woman.

Beauty is...knowing your own strength
Beauty is…knowing your own strength

 Whether you are getting up at sunrise to see how many squats you can do today or to start training for your first 5K, your body is strong and that is beautiful.

What can your body do?

Beauty is… celebrating what your body can do

“My body can run for miles and not give out on me”

Meet Miss Loey Lane. She’s a “college student, army wife, mama to two fur babies (a husky puppy and a kitten) and a beauty-loving blogger.” And an all around rockstar. Check out what is oh-so-right about her beautiful self.

What can your body do?

Beauty is…about that bass, but not for those reasons.

Here at OperationalizeBeauty, we too are all about that bass. But not for those reasons…

Ms. Trainor’s body image-affirming lyrics have won her widespread acclaim. And for good reason. I mean, who doesn’t want someone to bring booty back? And that’s right every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top! And I most definitely echo her cries regarding photoshop. This is a jam I have turned up more than once, and sang along loud and proud with my girls in the backseat. Maybe it was singing along that really got me thinking about the lyrics…

Here at OperationalizeBeauty, we too are all about that bass. But not for those reasons…

After establishing that she ain’t no size two, she reassures us that she can still shake it shake it like she’s supposed to do. She also let’s us know that she has that boom boom that all the boys chase. And that her momma told her not to worry about her size because boys like a little more booty to hold at night. So, as a momma, what I’m hearing is that the worth of this girl’s body lies in the fact that it is desirable to the fellas. And that she can shake it.

I love love love just about every other bit of the song, I really do. But I can’t help but cringe a bit at those few lines. Because ladies, your body is so much more that what some boy likes to squeeze at night. I can’t help but feel like those few lines just reinforce the sexualization and objectification of the female form that we have all been trying so hard to fight against for so long. She seems to be saying that it’s ok that she isn’t a size two because boys like that. She should be saying that it’s ok that she isn’t a size two because it’s ok that she isn’t a size two.

Continue reading “Beauty is…about that bass, but not for those reasons.”