Women and exercise – ‘you don’t have to’


women exercise pride ev grieveLove the Skin. Source: stacie joy

So, this is a little thought about the strange situation women are in in terms of exercise, our relationship to the world and to ‘body shaming’.

It is so assumed that a woman would be exercising because she hates her body or to lose weight that the phrase ‘oh, you don’t have to,’ is often used in response to the statement ‘I’m going for a run now’.

This is sad. To put it on the other foot, for a man who wants to exercise for whatever reason, this phrase seems less likely to be used (please correct me if I’m wrong!), but I’d guess the phrase ‘but you don’t need to lose any weight!’ isn’t used so much.

Our culture seems to have so engrained in our psyche the idea that women should dislike their bodies and strive to change them, that exercise naturally must be an odd side effect in response to this pressure.

women exercise you don't have to love- awesome desktopLove. Source: awesome desktop

But what if there was another reason? (Can you imagine?!)

What if, on the other end of the scale, a woman is so full of love for herself that she enjoys feeling healthy? Maybe she just likes running. Maybe she’s gotten past all the bullcrap about how people think she should be, gotten past all the hate that she is meant to be feeling, and she just loves herself, as she is.

The woman who loves her body does not then need to exercise. She chooses to. Exercise has many benefits, especially improving your mood and mental health, which, a woman who loves herself might want to take advantage of. Or not.

women exercise - you don't have to - lying-naked-woman-alfons-niexWoman. Source: Fine Art America

I happen to be an artist. To me, everything is art, including my body. I don’t work out to eradicate it – I work out to create it! To allow it to be all that it can be!

I love my body as it is and I love seeing it evolve. Yes, I like seeing my body develop into a healthier body, but I don’t berate it or myself when I have an off day and eat a whole pizza and a burrito! My body gave me life, it finds health for me, it works, even when I’m sleeping! And I find all sorts of ways of enjoying it; exercise being one of them.

 awwww women exercise you don't have to body pride girlGirl. Source: Pinterest

So I say yes to body pride (which is always sexy), and I say yes to exercise pride. Let’s allow our girls to run and enjoy being girls, to enjoy being active if they want; to find strength in any way they want to.

Because the shame of not being able to move, just incase you are judged as fearful of your own body, is not something we need carry on to the next generation.

 

What do you think? Vibe from the other side – what is body shaming like for men? Have you ever had this kind of ‘exercise shaming’ before? The odd sister of body shaming?

Let me know in the comments! Thanks, love you!!

For more on Body Lovin’, click here.

Thanks in advance for any gifts ❤

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10 ways to get comfortable using the ‘f’ word

feminist lookbookSwag. Source: lookbook

It has taken me just over a year to begin feeling comfortable with calling myself a feminist, with putting it on my site, even.

Here’s how you can, too!

Try telling your friends and people who support you

It’s funny to me as I meet new friends and they gasp (maybe not quite gasp), but as they wonder at how I could be so bold as to say that I am. I used to wonder if I could be so bold, also, but now, it’s really become easy, old hat.

My newest friend asked me if I get a lot of negative reactions, and the answer is honestly, no. I do see negative reactions to feminist videos, to anything that might resemble a woman standing up for her rights or talking about other women as if they had rights (audacious, I know!) but I personally have never had anything close to abuse or negativity about my views. (Touch wood!)

Talk with other feminists

Being in a group where you know there will be no retribution and will support your views is always a good thing. A lot of the people I follow on twitter I know are feminists or supporters of feminism (if they’ve not quite got there yet!)

Perhaps this is because I am always networking with those of like-minded thoughts.

I don’t get into comment fights if I can avoid it, and any comments I make are only for what I believe is a positive step for feminism – I express my enthusiasm, and it’s very difficult to argue with someone who has not even given an opinion, only expressed a feeling of joy that equality is that little bit closer for all women.

Express your feelings, not your opinions

This is not to say that voicing your opinion is not a good idea, it’s simply for those that don’t want to get in a fight about what they intrinsically believe – and why should they if they don’t have to? The idea is to stand up for what we believe in, not to bring others down who don’t believe in it.

Empathise with those who don’t believe what you believe

When some people say why you should shut up or shouldn’t call yourself a feminist specifically it can be hard to hear, if that’s what you identify as. But empathising with those statements, i.e. seeing the feelings and needs behind them can allow you to accept any differences of opinion. We’re allowed to disagree.

Plus, a bonus of this is people expect a dehumanising argument sent back their way. If you instead try to connect with their statement, it will at least confuse them, and at best, help both parties to feel heard and understood.

Know that you don’t have to use ‘the word’

Some people just don’t like the word ‘feminist’ I’m not sure why, and I will be writing a post on that topic next, because when it comes to it, it simply means wanting women to have basic human rights and equality.

But, just because I use the word for myself, doesn’t mean YOU have to. -Who cares?! A word is a word, and it’s my own right to identify as any identity I want to, and it is yours, too.

And if you do like the idea of equality, you might come to call yourself a feminist just to yourself, as I did, at first. It’s not like I go around with an ‘I am a feminist’ t-shirt on all day. I don’t talk about it all day long to complete strangers – it’s just a part of who I am – what I believe in – and why I write these posts in my attempt to empower myself and other women.

You don’t have to give up lipstick

Or make-up. Or hair products. Or being girly. Or manly. You don’t have to be angry all the time. Or give up having fun. Or laughing. Or having sex. Or not having sex.

It’s just about equal rights… Not about hating.

Shout it out

As Caitlin Moran suggests, try standing on a chair and yelling out words like ‘feminist’ and ‘environment’ until they become as natural as saying chocolate or macadamia nuts. (bonus points if you got the Eat, Prey, Love reference)

Use a disclaimer

The first post I ever wrote on this blog was about how not all feminists are dungarees-wearing, bra-burning, hairy-arm-pitted lesbians. I explained who I was, how I am JUST interested in equality for women.

Remember, it’s not your responsibility how other people react to you

This is simply that a friend of mine told me maybe the word feminist isn’t so good’er idea to use the actual word. It might offend some people. But that’s because they don’t know who I am, and they don’t know what I’m about. And they have their own stuff going on.

And that’s ok, but it’s not my responsibility to help them out. I might want to. I might want to clear some things up. To use a disclaimer. In that case, I would. But I am what I am as they say, so I’m not about to go around apologising all the time if they can’t believe me, the same way they don’t need to for disagreeing with me.

Remember, it’s about individuals

We’re all different. Some people won’t agree with you. No matter what you say. So you may as well say, quite simply, what you believe in.

I choose to use the ‘f’ word. Because it defines easily what I believe and any misconception that it means anything other than (I’ll say it again!) wanting equal rights for women, is a shame, but I have stated simply in what I believe and if someone chooses not to take my word for it, that’s really their prerogative. I don’t have to prove my beliefs to them.

In the same way, I am a pacifist, no one questions what this means.

Being a feminist, to me, is the same. And that’s my prerogative

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be ‘weak’ or ‘whiny’

You don’t have to be a ‘victim’ to be a feminist. You just need to want equality. It’s. really. That. Simple.

You can be super strong and want equality (if you like). Like Michele Obama 🙂

You can give feminism a good name

Feel like feminists have a bad rep? Well, you can change that.

Anyway, I’m not saying deciding to take that great leap and claim the name is easy. But I will say that if you are brave to even say the ‘f’ word once a year, you will be giving it a new shine, a new lease of life. Because there is a stereotype of angry bra-burning feminist, people shy away from using the word. But it’s not a big deal. It’s like saying, I eat chicken, I am a pacifist, I believe in human rights. I believe in equality. It’s the same thing.

Sharing that you are a feminist can be scary, but once you’ve done it, it really becomes reassuring just HOW MANY people will support you in your boldness to claim the label; to make it clear that you stand for women’s rights, and to show that you are not a horrible man-eating ogre to boot! 😉

 

So there we have it, ten ways to feel more comfortable using the ‘f’ word. I hope it’s helped.

Overall I have made my peace with the fact that there are those out there that do not believe what I believe, who do not understand my need for equality, who will make arguments against why they don’t see the need. And that’s ok. Hopefully one day we will be able to connect. Or not. But that’s their role in life, and this is mine. And I have to play it out with as much gusto as I possibly can.

I think one reason my blog has had so much support and not one negative comment (again, so far!), is because I am usually positive with my posts, always looking for the best in any situation and supporting young women. There is no ‘down with men’ speak of any kind, because I love men, and I think being a woman is a wonderful thing to be, I just also want equality…

 

What do you think? Are you loving the word or does it not matter at all? Let me know in the comments, and as always, thanks in advance for any little gifts you might want to give 🙂

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In response to… International Women’s Day 2017

hairy armpits blog in response to... international women's day 2017 8 marchWomen’s Day. Source: februarycalendars

This being a feminist website, I thought I’d best talk about the one day a year dedicated to celebrating women!

I usually don’t take much notice of it (which is perhaps ignorant, considering Annie Lennox’s wonderful and inspiring speech about the coming together of women of this day) as I write often about this subject, and I see everyday as a chance to inspire women; I see everyday as women’s day already. But a day to come together as a collective, to empower each other and to remember, that no woman is alone in this struggle for equality can only be a good thing in my book.

hairy armpits blog in response to... international women's day 2017 a lifeA life. Source: isis.aust

This year, sky are dedicating a week’s viewing to women’s achievements, the UN focused upon equality for women in the workplace by 2030, and Michelle Obama made an awesome speech about why young girls need to be educated.

Emma Watson once asked ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’ and I think this question answers all of the doubts those wondering about why a women’s day is needed. Because it’s one time when all of the issues we are concerned about can be discussed, together. And that is really empowering. Knowing there is a time for your voice to be heard, makes it easier to speak out knowing you will be supported. You were going to say it anyway, but it just makes sense to say it then.

So here’s to another 364.

 

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What do you think? Are you a fan of women’s day? What did you do this year to celebrate? Let me know in the comments!

Inner Violence? Why your inner peace is so important for the planet today

hairy armpitspeace innerInner Buddha. Source: Your Life Your Way

There is a lot of talk of inner peace. And I just realised the real benefit of it.

I had always thought inner peace was all well and good.I like the feeling of peace, who doesn’t? ‘But it doesn’t help the people fighting in Palestine, I would argue. It doesn’t take direct action.’

I understood that we cannot give (much) to others, if we haven’t taken care of ourselves. But that was the most I valued in it. I didn’t see how it connected practically to the outer world. I thought finding ‘inner peace’ was a fluffy idea that didn’t really do anything much.

Yesterday I had a hard time getting starting on my writing work. I’m stuck in a difficult situation where I want my own independence but am too stuck in my ways of wanting to write my novel and change the world to manage to leave my mum’s house.

This whole situation creates a continual inner conflict.

Listening today to a talk about the Dalai Lama, I realised, that the harsh words I have been saying to myself, are actually contributing to violence on the planet- the one thing I do not want! I realised I was inflicting violence upon someone – myself. And that shouldn’t mean the violence is any less needed to resolve.

When I heard Jeremy Gilley (founder of Peace One Day) say that 98% of conflict is not in the war zone; it is in our communities, and we can all become peacemakers on our turf; it opened my eyes to the power we each have. All conflict is connected, and in a culture where conflict thrives (all you need to do is watch an episode of Coronation Street or open a newspaper, or even watch cartoons) , war becomes a much more feasible option.

And why is this important? I am not likely to be violent to others, although the jump from judging myself to judging someone else in a harsh way is not so far. It is most important to be able to be compassionate to myself when I have acted in a ‘not so perfect’ way, because if I can’t have compassion for myself when I am in pain, I will never be able to hear what is going on for anyone else when we are in conflict. If I can’t DEAL with myself and my emotions and can only ever see an enemy image in myself, then I cannot hear what is going on for someone else in another situation. And without that connection, violence wins. It’s that simple.

And as a pacifist, I do not want to contribute to violence. There is enough in this world.

And so the next time I begin chastising myself, I will begin a conversation with my inner educator.

I realise now that it starts with me. It starts with empathy. It starts with inner peace.

Marshall ❤ Source: The Tube

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Word play : SLUT

arts-effect-slut-the-playSlut the play. Source:Arts effect 

Warning: NSFW

Ok, so this one is about the word: slut.

I think this one may actually be more offensive than cunt. Because a cunt is just a strong sounding word for a vag, but slut has all sorts of connotations and judgements of its own.

The thing is, like how being hairless was associated with class, i.e. those who were hairless tended to be in the upper classes (poor people couldn’t afford razors!)… the word slut was actually originally used to describe a man who was dressed badly (“Did you see what John was wearing? -Flannel pants with a checkered shirt – what a slut!”)

omweekend-hot-slut-clubPopular Slut Club. Source: dollskill

It was next used to describe girls in lower class status when they were working as maids and didn’t do the housework to the standards their boss would’ve liked. So really, we are implying girls who have more sex than the next girl are lower class citizens – but we knew that anyway, right?!

Just think of the type of girl who is a slut. Got her in your minds eye? Now, is she a powerful business executive who likes to sleep with guys when she pleases?! I’d guess not.

That’s why the word slut is not just about sex. It’s not just about telling girls it’s wrong what they do with their lady parts when they’re turned on (whole other blog post!) – it’s about what she looks like, how she dresses, her intelligence level, her class, if she has a lot of make-up on.

urbanette-magazine-slut-bitch-whoreSlut Whore Bitch. Source: Urbanette magazine

It’s also about her autonomy. And it’s about how the person using the word is feeling. It takes away the focus from them, and whatever needs they may have that aren’t being met (and believe me, they have them if using this word!), and puts it onto you. It’s about insecurity and fear, at the heart of it all.

The Cambridge Dictionary definition: (slang) “A woman who has sexual relationships with a lot of men without any emotional involvement.”

This word is so strong it can provoke strong reactions in women and men. ‘Slut’, of course, can now be used against men as well as women. Men who are deemed ‘too promiscuous’.

We’re all different, and some people like getting down a lot more quickly with a lot more people than other people do. And I don’t see why two consenting adults having a good time shouldn’t be able to do that without judgement or shame. In fact, as a pacifist, I would much rather that be a pass-time than war.

Women Calling Women Names

true-star-beaut-slut-pictureBeautiful slut. Source: true star

TV has educated us well to expect girls to be catty to other girls, and to fight over each other for the man. This is not an accurate representation of life. Nor is the idea that women only ever talk about men all the time and little else. But there is some truth in there: women slut shame.

Girls in high school reportedly call the other girls sluts in order to gain a higher rung in the pecking order (…noticing a pattern here?!), and women have been known to call the other girls sluts, because they would like the guy to see her as special. She’s the one who doesn’t give it away so easily. She’s special. He will have to work to get her. She is an upper class citizen, comparatively.

It’s this kind of behaviour that separates womankind. And that’s the saddest thing of all. -Have you ever heard of any other group doing that?

Do I look like a slut? Source: The tube

Creating a class within and between other women, is not a great way for us to all move forward as a gender. It implies that most women are below that of a man’s status, but a few are equal to it – the ones that aren’t sluts. The ones that don’t put out?! It’s ludicrous.

On top of that, if this system actually worked, none of us would ever get laid!

Then there’s the other sad side of this word. The part that relates to sexual violence. The idea that, if you can begin by calling a woman this label, it makes her a certain type of person – almost less human. And any kind of dehumanisation can easily lead to other forms of violence.

inside-sao-paolo-slut-walkI am not a sandwich. Source: Inside Sao Paolo

Words are powerful. Words of hate used against any group or individual need to be taken seriously.

So, what now? Well, considering it’s a word to denigrate women and lower their status as human beings, a violent phrase that implies unworthiness of love and equality, I’d say we have two options: we either don’t use it, ever, or, only women use it in a POSITIVE way (if this is even possible).

video-italiano-pulp-fictionSexy intellect. Source: videoitaliano

I, personally, am down with sexy women – sexual and creative and expressive beings. Women empowered in their sexuality – not put down by a classist, racist and sexist word.

“Sexy is always good.”

Donatella Versace

To support an anti-women shaming group, click here. And as always, leave a comment, let me know what you think!

 
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Anxiety, jealousy, depression: It’s not who you are

Ok, so I am stealing this off a friend of mine, a three principles practitioner… this wisdom is just too good to keep to myself.

David Bowerman three principles not who you are.jpgMy friend, Dave. Source: david-bowerman

Last night I explained a problem I was having in which I felt jealous of someone.  And this is what he said to me about my worries: “It’s not who you are.” The jealousy, while being an emotion I feel, is not me. It’s a transient feeling that I felt. And it doesn’t define me.

I also suffer with anxiety and suddenly I realised – I am not my anxiety, and I am not my anxious thoughts, either! … Which led me to the conclusion that I am not an ‘anxious person’, as I had once thought.

monkey-mind-heather-gorhamMonkey mind. Source: Heather Gorham

These moments of stress happen to all of us. And sometimes there’s nothing you can do about them. But once you’ve felt that stress – knowing the fact that it doesn’t define you forever – is redeeming.

It’s not about denying that you feel anxious. It’s about knowing that, it really doesn’t matter.

nothing-hapennedNothing. Source: ironbridgefurniture

“Until mind says something happened, nothing happened.” Mooji

And then this can also apply to things people say or do around us. Life can knock you down, but how do you take it? Do you think it’s about you? Or just a new direction to take you in? Is it only meaningless pain, or do you prefer to see a purpose to the pain, or a lesson to be learnt?

… So if someone rejects you, or you don’t get the job you want, or you’re broke, you’re body is in ill health right now, these labels do not define who you are.

What does is deeper than that. It’s the true you.

videezy-lightLight. Source: videezy

Ultimately, we’re not the avatars we create. We’re not the pictures on the film stock. We are the light that shines through it. All else is just smoke and mirrors.

Jim Carrey

We are the peace we feel when walking through the forest on a snowy day, the calm after meditation, the sleepy feeling when it’s warm under the covers in the morning. That is the light shining through.

And we are insights, and doing what naturally occurs to us.

Even the pain of anxiety is leading us towards ourselves, because it points us in the direction of what we want.

Oprah realises who she is. Source: The Tube

“All trial stands outside of yourself.”

Oprah

We are the person observing the feeling of calm, or anxiety. We are the calm once the storm is gone. The feeling of home within us.

ooo-peaceful-skySky. Source: paper4pc

“It is not who you are.” – It made me remember. We are not the clouds. We are the sky.

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Soldiers are human, too

soldiers-are-human-too-hairy-armpits-cute-kid-interraction

Soldier and boy. Source: wow amazing

This is a post I thought I would do as most soldiers and the general population are encouraged to see other soldiers through the lens of enemy images.

This is why the press will call the ‘other guy’ names, and will make them seem less than human. This way, when we are riled up enough and scared enough of them, so then (in theory),  it’s ok if we kill these people who are: just, like, us.

So, in response to the dehumanising messages – this is the other side of war.

The cute side.

soldiers-are-humans-too-hairy-armpits-kitten-awwwSoldier and kitten. Source: boredpanda

Soldiers like kittens…

soldiers-are-humans-too-so-cute-hairy-armpitsSoldier and kitten. Source: boredpanda

soldiers-are-humans-too-hairy-armpits-kittenSoldier and kitten. Source: whyzat

And dogs…

soldiers-are-human-too-hairy-armpits-ukranian-soldier-redditUkranian Soldier and his pup. Source: reddit

soldiers-are-human-too-hairy-armpits-marines-puppy-earth-pormPuppy with marines. Source: officialhuskylovers

They care for children…

soldiers-are-humans-too-hairy-armpits-man-with-childSoldier with child. Source: Pinterest

so-cute-pinterestMaking the girls laugh. Source: pinterest

sweet-picture-soldier-and-children-press-examinerLet’s be friends. Source: press examiner

soldiers-are-human-too-afgan-soldier-with-young-childAfghan soldier protects crying child. Source: emlii

soldiers-are-human-too-hairy-armpits-woman-and-little-girl-ndu-eduSoldier and little girl. Source: ndu.edu

soldiers-are-human-too-jordanian-soldier-warms-syrian-refugee-babys-handsJordanian soldier warms Syrian refugee baby’s hands. Source: huffington post

And they are not afraid to cry…

soldiers-are-human-too-beautiful-soldier-criesShellshocked and smoking. Source: last resistance

soldiers-are-human-too-us-soldier-criesUS soldier crying. Source: flickr

soldiers-are-human-too-soldier-cries-with-his-brotherCrying. Source: pinterest

soldiers-are-human-too-cryingSource: pinterest

soldiers-are-human-too-soldier-cryingSource: standtall4pts

soldiers-are-human-too-hairy-armpits-group-crying-beforeitsnewsSource: before it’s news

Often innocent women and children are killed in action, but I cannot believe after looking at these photos that any soldier was ‘naturally’ born to kill. I believe they were naturally born to love. That is why training to kill must become an automatic and learnt response.

It has been hard for the army to work out how to get people to kill people. Because they instinctually don’t want to kill their brothers and sisters.

My hope is that, if we can all continue to see the humanness in all of us, then we eventually will find, no one even wants to practice killing. Only love.

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