We’ve all read about Dani Mathers, Playboy’s Playmate of the Year, creating the internet shitstorm of the week by Snapchatting a picture of an unsuspecting naked woman in the locker room. After we collectively picked our jaws up off the floor from the sheer cruelty of the act, we all probably had the thought, “What if that were me?” At least I did. How absolutely horrifying.
Usually, while showering at the gym, I’m thinking, damn girl, you did great today, way to show that elliptical who’s boss! To have all of those self-congratulatory feelings later be paired with a picture of my naked body on the internet for the whole world to see — not to mention with a caption from a freaking model saying, “If I can’t unsee this, then you can’t either.” Well, maybe I’m a wimp, but that might cause some real mental damage. I just hope that the woman in the picture is tougher than me or completely oblivious to all that happened.
I mean, we have enough reasons to not want to go the gym, right? It takes time, willpower, money, effort, and now we have to worry about Playboy Playmates taking nude pictures of us? Really?
Well, I say, fuck that, Dani Mathers of the world. We may not all have gravity-defying breasts and unrealistic thigh gaps, but dammit, we’re trying to feel good here. I exercise to relieve stress, remain healthy, and maybe justify a margarita or two. And a lot of us who do haul our butts out to the gym, the trails, or other public places to exercise have literally built babies within our bodies. Every day, I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that my belly button will always look a little weird and my boobs are migrating south just like geese. Yes, my breasts are now officially like waterfowl.
That woman’s body that Dani Mathers took a picture of was all of our bodies. All of our bodies that hold stories within every supposedly flawed inch — our heartbreaks, our triumphs, our violations, our victories.
Our hips are wide because ligaments stretched to birth a baby, but you know what, they have helped our legs pace mile after mile while rocking babies, soothing sick kids, or sprinting toward hysterical screams on the playground.
Our arms may jiggle a bit, but they’re strong enough to lift a sleeping 4-year-old and five bags of groceries at the same time.
Our boobs sag from the hours (and hours!) of nursing children.
Our bellies are like road maps of silverfish-shaped stretch marks and scarred cuts.
Our hair is a mess because our lives are not just our own anymore.
And our butts. They are probably drooping a bit more than we would have hoped, but they can squat and lift and race after toddlers as they run toward parking lots. Oh man, I miss my 20-year-old butt.
That woman’s body you shamed has stories that you will never know — just as all of our bodies do.
We go to the gym, not to erase our stories, but because we are already strong. If you see a woman at the gym, especially a mom, know that it probably took a herculean effort to get her there. Please don’t mock this thing that we are doing to try to be better versions of ourselves.
And if you have to stoop to humiliating a woman in what should be the safest of environments, you might want to turn that phone camera around and take a look at what’s inside of you. Be careful though, you might not be able to unsee it.