I cannot even hold my tongue anymore. I am so shocked by the careless inconsiderate, entirely ignorant comments made by Donna Karen in regards to this gross behavior by Harvey Weinstein and his alleged harassment of countless women. It has brought up more than just my past but also recent unfortunate situations that have affected me so profoundly and led me to write this post. I want to say it over and over. IT IS NOT OK TO BE BODY SHAMED!
I want to say that as women, a teacher, a health and fitness spokesperson I have a responsibility to inspire the love of self. I have nieces who are in their teens and on social media, and they look up to me, so I feel intense need to show them that at no time in their journey on this Earth is it ever the right of another human to make them feel ashamed about the way they look.
I have had my battles with confidence and body image, so comments in the media by people who are in the spotlight and are being irresponsible with their words struck me hard.
I reflect back to my childhood and how I was bullied and teased endlessly about my size. I was super skinny. I was very sporty, active on the gymnastics team and I loved playing sports after school with my family and neighborhood kids. So whether you want to chalk it up too fast metabolism or just my genes, I felt ashamed of my body. I would pretend and dress up in the mirror stuffing my shirt with socks to make my bust bigger and play with makeup and hair. I modeled myself and my image after what I saw in fashion magazines. I wanted to be a model because in my mind I saw them as beautiful and if I did my hair and makeup and dressed just like they did, then I too would be pretty and adored. Well, I have lived a lot of my life like that, and it took me s few decades to come into my own, be proud of the way I looked and confident in who I am as a person. Sure, flawed like we all are, but accepting of my quirks.
With the current events happening in the media about sexual harassment and body shaming by a prominent designer it reminded me of my own experience with body discrimination. Sure everyone is going to have opinions and also the right to speak out on media platforms, but it is the message and the younger population I feel for, and how they are going to be affected the most. However, at forty-something I went through it and that was most unexpected.
About six years ago when I was working for a small business, a fitness studio none the less (I mean we were supposed to be promoting health and supporting each other) I was a target of body shaming. I am well known in the community teaching pilates. The owner of this fitness studio knew me, participated in several of my classes, had seen me on numerous occasions, living, breathing and in person. My point is that she knew I was blessed with a good figure, no surprises here. So, here is a woman, just a few years younger than me, fit, and someone who said they wanted me on their team. I was hired but it went sideways fast. The business at the time was young and in need of press, they got just that. Lots of opportunity for exposure, and indeed they got it, often in the news and us teachers were usually the "mock-students" in a fitness class for video clips. I remember the very first filming, I was excited to do a workout and looking forward to spending time with my new co-workers. I am timid so being on camera,is very uncomfortable for me and not where I shine, so I was not looking forward to that aspect of it. I was very nervous. I wore my fave LULU outfit, and I ended up having a blast after we started the class. I had broke through my shyness and we all were enjoying the event, until I wasn't. Halfway through the workout, she told me to “cover up my boobs.” just flat out like that, so unkind. I was totally caught off guard, I thought she must be joking but it wasn't a joke at all. I was so taken aback; I was humiliated and embarrassed. I wanted to crawl into the hole that day, and for all the years after I stayed there that is how I felt. Shy, ashamed, very critical of my own body and always on eggshells when I picked out outfits for work. As the company grew clients in fitness industry often gifted the instructors clothing, gear, etc. What should have been happy moments of people appreciation and a community supporting one another by sharing each others success went another direction altogether. For me it did. Something simple like a gesture, for instance a workout top left as a thank you for teaching an amazing class, turned into a paranoid nightmare for me. Instead of pride for her teacher and seeing how I was loved for a job well done I would be met with caddy comments by the owner. Notes left on top of my gifts from her saying things like, “please do not wear this at work.” or "I hope you are not planning on wearing this at work." It was always something to do with me being "inappropriate" or eluding that I was somehow to revealing with my attire and that was directly related to my bust size. It's hilarious since I am not the type of girl to even wear a bra top with my mid drift showing but somehow I was someone she thought she could bully.
Now we hear a lot about the men but not so much the women. So when I watched Megyn Kelly yesterday, and she spoke about the shaming and harassment by Mr. Weinstein, she brought up an excellent point, and it resinated with me. When we are embarrassed or humiliated sometimes smiling is our initial reaction and that somehow the other person reads that as it is ok or maybe we think it's a joke. I think back, about all the different occasions and what happened to me and that was my response. Sometimes I laughed it off, just to try to fit in, which was toxic because I lived in resentment. Other times I spoke my mind and confronted or expressed my being hurt, which only got me into more trouble because I worked for a narcissist and they, of course, can do no wrong (insert sarcastic face). It has been eating me up for years. I stuffed it away when I quit that job thinking that I wasdone and past is past, but this recent media outrage opened my wounds and I felt like the women who kept quiet. Then I thought about how unhealthy it was and what it did to my peace of mid. This is the most therapeutic way for me to rid myself once and for all of these experiences and I pray in the process I can inspire someone else to find their voice and not be scared of what anyone may think or how they may react.
This is far from over, this case is just beginning with Harvey, and I suspect it is going to bring up a lot more and many more women coming forward. Although I am not a direct target of his monstrous behavior, I feel empathy for the women whom he degraded. What is so sad is that a WOMAN jumped on board with him and added to the degradation with her validation of bad behavior. This is what nailed the coffin shut for me. Why do we tolerate bad behavior? Condoning bad behavior, isn't it just as bad as the bad behavior act itself?
Donna Karen, you should be ASHAMED not SHAMING. Women need to support each other, period.
Be Happy, Be Healthy, Love Your Body,
xo Jessi xo