How I Learned to Appreciate My Body, Even if Others Don't - Ivana Chapman

How I Learned to Appreciate My Body, Even if Others Don’t

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fitness woman looking down at her body

It’s not everyone’s ideal physique, but I’m happy with my body the way it is.

I recently ran a Facebook ad campaign using photos of myself from various fitness photo shoots that I’ve done. Although the campaigns were successful, I did receive some unsolicited negative feedback from some women (yes, only from the women) who saw the ad.

Here were the comments: “That’s too thin.” “That’s a man, not a women (sic)” And my personal favourite: “That looks like a teenage boy that works out.” Ouch!

Sour Grapes?

I’d be lying if I said that these comments weren’t a little upsetting, and I couldn’t resist looking at the profiles of the women who made these comments. They were all noticeably overweight in their profile pics and cover pages and I couldn’t help thinking – in my wounded state – that it was sour grapes on their part.

Still, I was a bit upset that someone would need to make their negative feelings known so hatefully. I hadn’t solicited comments by asking, “What do you think of my physique?” or “Am I skinny or what?”, so it got me thinking that these women really must have had a burning desire to express how they feel about thinner women.

Too Fat?

If I had gone on their pages and posted “You’re too fat”, many people would be offended. So why is it ok to make derogatory comments about someone who’s slim and – I might add – very healthy? I realise that fitness models are not everyone’s ideal physique. Some people don’t like to see any visible muscle on a woman and consider a body well-rounded by fat to be “womanly”. I would argue with that whole notion, especially when those “womanly” physiques fall in the overweight range and are developed with the excess use of donuts. Many women prefer the tiny frame of Kristin Stewart or the old-school Marilyn Monroe ideal to the toned fitness model. Never mind that neither of these women are/were very healthy. Not all fitness models are either.

Don’t Fight Your Genetics

Everyone has a genetic body type and shape. The Jennifer Lopezes of this world might covet the tall, lean frame of Nicole Kidman (and vice versa!), but it’s not going to happen. Nothing is going to turn a short, curvy body into a statuesque, slim one. No amount of exercise is going to turn the lithe body of Gwyneth Paltrow into the rounder shape of Scarlett Johansson. Coveting something that’s unattainable to you is a recipe for lifelong unhappiness. No matter what your genetic structure, healthy eating and regular exercise will help your body be the best it can be. You’ll feel better, and look better, when you treat your body right and appreciate the benefits of the particular body type you’ve been given.

Personal Preference and Health

There’s two issues here. One is the ideal physique from a subjective point of view. It’s ok to like what you like, from a sexual attraction point of view. My husband’s tall well-muscled rugby player body is my ideal male body, but I know there are plenty of women who prefer Adam Levine’s gangly look or Jude Law’s petite pretty boy thing. To each their own when it comes to attraction.

Now let’s look at health. In the photos I posted, as well as right now, I’m a healthy weight by the general standards (BMI, body fat percentage). I’m not saying that’s all it’s about, but it’s the first part. I’m also happy, energetic, and work out 5-6 times a week and stay active chasing around my 7-month-old baby.

By most standards I’m lean, and I eat an excellent varied diet that includes plenty of protein, vegetables, fruit, and the occasional chocolate molten lava cake. No deprivation or starvation here! No drugs, fat-burners, or weight-loss supplements (other than health-benefitting fish oils) either. It’s all totally natural. I don’t think you can argue that my weight is unhealthy if I’m performing well and I’m eating and exercising in a healthy way.

Do The Best With What You Have

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I’m doing the best with what I have and I’m proud of the shape I’m in. Like any woman, I’ve had my insecurities. I’ve been through periods when I was unhappy with the condition that my body was in. I haven’t eaten all the right things for me and the consequences were apparent.

Now I’m healthy, lean, and happy with myself and my body.

I can’t please everyone with my physique, no matter what I do. And I don’t care.

Ivana ChapmanĀ 

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 6-year-old boy. She is a writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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