Adventures in Spinning and Self-Acceptance
by Samantha Montpetit-Huynh
I haven’t always been someone who has dared to take a leap of faith or go outside the box; never mind agree to join 200 women as they spin in their underwear, even if it IS for a good cause. I mean, would you??
Whether you would or not, most of the women I know, wouldn’t and I was that SAME woman not that long ago because of the fear associated with it.
When I look back to my high school days (which were not fun, I can tell you that), I was so paralyzed in fear to be in front of my class to do anything, that I happily took a failure mark if that meant I didn’t have to present my English paper or recite a paragraph from a text book.
My somewhat rocky, unhappy teenage years, coupled with a (lot) of pot, a dislike for school and very low self-esteem (shocking, I know) led to dropping out at the sweet old age of 17 to pursue – what you may ask?? Not a hell of a lot.
But I had to get my ass in gear and find a job and pay rent because my mother was not going to support me if I didn’t support my brain.
In the midst of all of this, I found the gym. A place that not only made me feel strong but a sense of empowerment. Even if that only happened in the gym, it happened somewhere.
That was 18. Fast forward 28 years and I still LOVE the gym but myself? My body? That’s another thing all together.
It’s funny. Perception can really EFF YOU UP.
And this is why I am writing this. I was asked a few weeks back to be part of an event called #Spininyourskin, hosted by Knixwear; a company that inspires body positivity and support for women of all sizes. This event was to raise awareness about mental health and for each woman who came, a bra and underwear were donated to a woman at CAMH.
The catch? We all had to spin for 1 hour in a bra and underwear.
Fantastic. What a great cause. I immediately put my hand up. Then almost threw up in my mouth.
I mean, who does that? I do, that’s who. It’s part of my ongoing mission to nip this insecure brain in the butt! To do something that scares the hell out of me so I can come out of the other end and feel awesome about what I have done.
Except when you find yourself in the change room with women who are half your age and you are clearly the oldest one there.
Sigh….breakout the internal body shaming, comparing, judging.
STOP. That’s exactly why I was there. To stop this B-S. To remind myself that yes, I am 46 and have lived twice as long as these other women and was still asked to be a part of this. To be proud of who I am, the mother I came to be and the entrepreneur that inspires others on a daily basis.
Joanna handed out glow in the dark markers (because this was also going to be filmed in blue light) for us to write on our bodies, the negative words that we were going to rid ourselves of during this class.
I immediately wrote FEAR right across the front of my belly but before I could write anything more, I looked around and saw “not good enough” insecure” “doubt” “ugly”. And more.
These images stopped me in my tracks and reminded me of the 18 year old who always felt “not thin enough” when it was obviously in my head.
These women writing these words were beautiful, young and perfect (at least in my eyes) and the messed up thing is they didn’t see it in themselves.
Nice reality check. As much as I think I might have it together, it took a short visit in a change room with twenty “somethings” to make me feel like I was 18 again – fat and un-fit.
And that’s when I didn’t have time to be in my head anymore. I was assigned a spin bike (at the front of the class, no less) and got prepared for (what I was hoping) was going to be a moderately intense class. I mean, it was going to be filmed so we had to look good right?
But before we got our asses kicked and slipped and slid all over our seats in our sweat, we met Elly Mayday, body positive, plus sized model, cancer survivor and believer that loving our bodies with every single imperfection, scar, stretch mark and dimple is essential for self-love.
And she’s right. That’s what I teach my girls each and every day. I try very much to lead by example but also with my words as they can be very impactful (negative and positive). The words I say to them and the words I say to myself. Sometimes we just need to look in the mirror and say “you ARE perfect”.
Sometimes? Try EVERY. SINGLE. DAMN. DAY