An Open Letter To Women Afraid To Be Seen

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Dear Women,

I will start with the inspiration for this letter.  As I walked to work the other day, I saw you running. I thought “good for you!” and then remembered that I am not ready for this half marathon on Sunday. Whoops.

Anyway, as I began stressing myself out over possible knee issues or whatever terrible ailment will befall me during my own 13.1 miles, I noticed you a little more. With every dark building you passed, your head would turn to catch a glimpse of your reflection. You messed with your hair. You adjusted your shirt. It never seemed like anything was quite the way you wanted it.

Was I missing something? I saw an athletic woman taking care of her body and using her strength to put one foot in front of the other. What did you see?

My second inspiration comes from conversations and off-handed comments that you probably have already forgotten. They stuck with me because of a common theme. Many of you whom I have talked to emphasize your willingness to work out in public only AFTER you have achieved some type of external goal. To look a certain way so as to avoid what you think people will perceive of you.

I can’t tell you how sad this makes me.

I’ve had my own struggles with body image and self-worth and I am by no means here to tell you that I am above it all. In fact, during many times in my life this letter is also addressed to me. What I have learned through those issues, however, is that the only one that can make you feel bad about yourself is YOU. What if we all drew attention to our assets rather than our weaknesses?

How much of life do we miss by hiding? How many opportunities would open up to you just by being willing to be YOURSELF and explore the things that you enjoy? How much space could we free up in our heads by ceasing the incessant comparisons and judgments?

I want to ask you to put down the bat. Stop the shaming. Start embracing yourselves. Say something nice to yourself in the mirror instead of meeting your reflection with condescension.  I want so badly to let everyone woman know (myself included) that she is amazing just the way she is.  That I can actually see you and not the mask you put on and present to the world. And you’re beautiful.

Please, can we all stop hiding and take a little time to celebrate our beauty and our strengths?

With love,

erin 🙂

Thanks Amanda for letting me think out loud.

Question:

  • What do you do to celebrate your strengths?
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19 Comments

  1. May 14, 2015 / 5:45 am

    I can totally relate to this and I felt that way about becoming a fitness instructor and trainer, but it’s ridiculous to live life waiting until we’re “just right” we’re not friggin’ Goldie Locks and if you never try you will never know.

    I am guilty of not celebrating my strengths enough. In fact, this week, I had to do an inventory of what other people think are my strengths and I asked a few friends and they said things I wouldn’t have said. It’s amazing what we don’t see in ourselves, that we really are missing out on. Great post, Erin! 🙂
    Erin recently posted…Raise The Bar #TOLMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      May 15, 2015 / 8:31 am

      That’s always a great exercise and I have had to do it as well throughout my recovery 🙂

  2. May 14, 2015 / 6:55 am

    Love it, Erin! I really hate that so many people are so ready to criticize what others’ bodies look like at the drop of the hat, which would make anyone feel a little insecure. I’m hoping the body positive movement will keep gaining momentum so we can all start to worry more about how we feel than how we look.
    Beth @ Running with the Sunrise recently posted…Two Easy Speed Workouts for RunnersMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      May 15, 2015 / 8:32 am

      Me too! I know when I start being too judgmental of others I really need to take a look at how I’m feeling since it usually stems from that.

  3. May 14, 2015 / 12:01 pm

    Beautiful! When I was younger, I would keep my eyes down in some sort of apology for my existence. When I went through therapy (when my marriage fell apart) I dealt with all the underlying issues and learned how to love myself. One of my assignments that I gave myself was to go to Wreck Beach (a nude beach out here in Vancouver) and practice being vulnerable and strong and gracious to my body. The first time I did it, my heart pounded in my throat. I was terrified. But bit by bit the self-apologies peeled away and I was able to fully embrace myself, the lovely bits and not-so-lovely bits. One doesn’t need to get naked in public to learn self-love, but it certainly fast-tracked it for me!
    Suzy recently posted…Dear Brain, From WalmartMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      May 15, 2015 / 8:32 am

      That’s a serious goal! I’m glad you were able to do it. Definitely takes balls!

    • erinsinsidejob
      May 15, 2015 / 8:33 am

      You’re beautiful! Say something nice to yourself next time 🙂

  4. May 14, 2015 / 12:39 pm

    This is why I love burlesque so much … everyone is encouraged to love and show off their bodies exactly as they are. It’s empowering when you consider how “normal” a lot of women think it is to hide and obsess over every “imperfection” that only they see. When really, we’re all beautiful in our own ways.
    Maggie recently posted…It Happened AgainMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      May 15, 2015 / 8:34 am

      Yes, that’s definitely an awesome celebration of women. It’s so cool that you do that!

  5. May 14, 2015 / 1:20 pm

    Such a great post, Erin, and sadly, too true for so many of us. I know I have those days where I feel uncomfortable and wind up hunched and hiding.
    Ange @ Cowgirl Runs recently posted…EmpoweredMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      May 15, 2015 / 8:34 am

      Next time stand up tall! You deserve to be seen!

  6. May 15, 2015 / 10:30 am

    This brought me to tears — you could have easily written this about me (and I know thousands upon thousands of women can relate). We nitpick and nitpick until it seems like the flaws are all other people can see, when in reality that’s not true. I am plagued by the thoughts of “I’m not strong or skinny enough to be a personal trainer” and I think that’s why I’m dragging my feet so much on it…like I want to look a certain way before I proclaim I’m a certified PT otherwise I’ll be a fraud. Thank you thank you thank you
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…Tina’s Sara’s Lauren’s FavoritesMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      May 15, 2015 / 10:50 am

      Aw you are so sweet! Also you are awesome and strong and beautiful. So go run! Be a PT! Do what makes you happy!

  7. May 15, 2015 / 2:02 pm

    yes, i totally agree. we need to love ourselves and stop the shaming! i’m my own harshest critic at times, but what motivates me to ease up on myself if that i know if i’m nice to myself, i’ll be a better partner and person. i want to lead by example.
    when i was first recovering i was white knuckeling my way through life and hated all of my mistakes and stumbles, but now the training wheels are off and i’ve really eased up my grip and life is so much better. sometimes i ease my grip TOO much and then go face first into a pie, but whatever this is called REAL life livin 🙂
    danielle recently posted…Random SauceMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      May 18, 2015 / 1:47 pm

      Totally. I love your approach. It’s all about balance and being compassionate with ourselves. It’s always a work in progress with me, but I give myself credit for trying 🙂

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