After a dark season in my life, I’m riding the exercise train again. Six or seven days a week, I’m getting my sweat on in the early mornings before my husband and kids are awake and underfoot. After almost every single workout, I snap a pic, a “sweaty selfie” if you will, and post it to Facebook. I caption it with how hard it was, how good I feel, how much I sweat, or how I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it.
I’ve no doubt many people in my newsfeed are annoyed by my daily workout selfies. They think I’m narcissistic or showing off, or that I’m merely looking for affirmation on how much of a kick-ass person I am.
And those haters would be wrong.
There’s a lot of negative shit in our social media channels these days, and there’s a growing number of people who are trying their hardest to combat that negativity with positive stuff. Some people share funny memes or heartwarming videos. I’m part of a movement who shares pictures of us lifting weights or drenched in underboob sweat. We’re not bragging — on the contrary, we’re trying to be inspiring with our workout selfies.
Those pictures of us doing downward dog or chilling in the locker room are meant to be motivating. If there’s someone out there in IG-land who’s wondering if now is the time for them to lose the baby weight, we want to show them they can do it. If there’s a young woman struggling with body image, we want to show her that strong can be beautiful. It’s even for our own personal motivation as well. A picture is worth a thousand words, and when I feel like I’m not making any progress, I can scroll through the pics on my phone or my feed and see how far I’ve come.
People tend to share what they’re most proud of. We share pictures of our daughter’s first dance recital and our son’s first baseball game. We share pictures of the kick-ass scarf we made and the chili that’s simmering on the stove which tastes just like Mom’s. We share these things because we are proud and want to show off these magical parts of our world.
For me, I’m proud of my body. I’m proud of what it can do. I‘m proud of how much it’s evolved. I’m proud of how many push-ups I can do and how long I can hold a plank. I spent years hiding my body beneath oversized sweatshirts, and now that my self-esteem is on the rise, I’m going to make up for lost time and show off my body which is getting stronger and leaner. If someone can share a picture of their dinner, what’s wrong with me sharing a picture of my red and blotchy sweat-drenched face?
I do my best to assume the best of people, and I hope everyone in my newsfeed offers me the same grace — that when they wake up in the morning and see my sweaty smile, they don’t think I’m doing it for accolades. I’m doing it because I like myself and my body and what I’m doing. I do it to maybe help others. And I do it because it’s my newsfeed, and I’ll post what I want to. There’s a lot of things to hate on Facebook, but my sweaty selfies aren’t one of them.
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