I want(ed) a volleyball ass.
The other day I walked into the gym and declared to my trainer that I want a volleyball ass. Not just any ass: Kerri Walsh‘s (now Kerri Walsh Jenning’s) ass in all its un-airbrushed glory.
I know better than to look at images of models in magazines, on billboards, even on red carpets and compare my body to theirs – not only because their bodies are incredibly unusual and genetically determined, but also because with airbrushing, Photoshop and the like, I know that the models I see in my monthly glossies don’t even look like the models I see in my monthly glossies!
But when it comes to professional athletes, it seemed pretty harmless. They’re fit. They’re strong. They focus on what their bodies can do, not what they look like. More poignantly, though, there is no air-brushing, no Photoshop and no tricky makeup, lighting or styling on that volleyball count. No, her ass is 100% real in that bathing suit bottom of hers. And it was the fact that the body I was seeing was real and healthy and – did I mention? – real, that made me think Kerri Walsh was a great body role model. For a longer-than-I’d-like-to-admit moment anyway…
But here’s the deal: in much the same way that comparing yourself (myself) to the images of models in magazines (with their Photoshop-trimmed thighs, lengthened torsos and brightened eyes) is a dangerous comparison because of the unrealistic body ideals depicted as well as the truly unattainable standard of beauty portrayed, comparing your (or my) body to that or a professional athlete is also both unrealistic and unattainable… and dangerous.
And not only because (and I know this!) it’s not a good ideal to compare your body to anyone else’s body. Ever. (You are uniquely you and when you’re healthy your body will be exactly where it’s supposed to be… I type this to remind myself as much as you reading this.) But also because it’s dangerous – really dangerous – to compare your real, un-retouched body in all its beauty to an unrealistic and unattainable beauty ideal.
I know what you’re thinking… or at least what I was thinking when I first made this declaration: “but her ass is realistic (I see it!) and attainable (Kerri Walsh has attained it!)… this is categorically different than comparing my body to what can more accurately be described as computer generated art.”
And here’s the danger…
Just because a single woman has made it real and attained it, doesn’t mean it’s a realistic body ideal or an attainable one. It doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous – even if she’s attained it in a holistic and healthy way. And it doesn’t mean that it’s not f’ing stupid to set yourself up for such guaranteed failure in the way I was about to do.
In declaring, “I want Kerri Walsh’s ass,” what I was really saying is as absurd as my saying that I want to wake up every morning looking just like Gisele looks in a magazine spread, after winning the genetic lottery, spending hours in hair and makeup, perched under the perfect lighting, with the best photographer and stylists, and after being manipulated by computer technology to magically erase any minor “flaws.” (If I said that, you’d think I was nuts, right?! Yet how often do you hear women make statements like this?)
Comparing myself to Kerri Walsh’s ass was no different… Because here’s what I was really saying: “I want to look like I workout 6 days a week, all day, as a full-time job, without making exercise my career.” And that, my friends, is unrealistic and unattainable and, needless to say, a recipe for plummeting confidence, unhealthy habits and even less healthy mindsets.
So, the next time you catch yourself looking at another woman’s body, wishing parts (or all) of it were yours to strut, remember this: no one else’s body is a realistic or attainable body for you. We’re all beautifully unique. Be healthy. Be fit. But embrace your body exactly as it is. And know this: you’re beautifully perfect just the way you are.
Photography Credit: http://www.facebook.com/kerrileewalsh