Taking Issue with “The Catalog”

April 20, 2011 § 4 Comments

Yesterday Don came home from work, and routinely plopped the mail down on the coffee table.

“Anything for me?” I asked.

He then tossed me the swimsuit edition of the Victoria’s Secret catalog.

I cringed. He smirked.

No, the catalog did not magically mail itself to my apartment. I’ve bought from Victoria’s Secret multiple times, and even (I regretfully admit) have turned to their catalogs for diet motivation.

But this time, receiving the VS catalog in the mail pissed me off. Probably because the other day I was browsing through Huffington Post and found one, two, three, four posts on VS catalog airbrushing snafus. Shocking? No, not really. We all know that glossy magazines and catalogs airbrush the heck out of their models, especially when they’re trying to sell us something, but this time it just hit a nerve.

It is no secret to those who truly know me that I have body image issues – really what woman doesn’t? – but I have certainly let these body image issues take over my life in a negative way on more than one occasion. A few months ago I wrote a long post on my dealings with disordered eating and negative body image. I published it & then felt weird about sharing such a personal subject and made then made the post private.

Without divulging the personal details of my body image issues, I’ll just say that I most certainly let magazines and pop-culture dictate my self worth starting out from a very young age which led to a roller-coaster adolescence of severe weight loss and severe weight gain.

Before I decided to take running seriously, I always viewed exercise purely as a means to attaining an aesthetic goal. It was never about feeling healthy, or gaining strength, or even relieving stress. It was always about feeling like I needed to look a certain way in order to gain acceptance, respect and confidence.

And really, as recent as a year ago, my exercise goals were still motivated by a “magic number” on the scale.

That all started to change when I ran my first Half-Marathon in November. I felt so accomplished – for the first time, I’d achieved something athletically that had NOTHING to do with my appearance. If you’ve read my bio, you’d see that my younger endeavors included dance & cheerleading and you can conclude that there was an overarching pressure to look a certain way in both of these hobbies.

So getting back to the Vicoria’s Secret catalog…

I’m a mere 10 days out from running 26.2 miles. The entire time I have trained for this marathon I have never once been motivated by the expectation that I may lose weight. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve gained some (muscle that is) and maybe weighed myself once a month at most.

A year ago this time I was obsessively counting calories, longingly referring to the 2010 Victoria’s Secret catalog, dreaming of a day when I’d have an airbrushed body that vaguely resembles one of the “angels”.

Today I am looking forward to buying a 26.2 magnet to stick on the back of my Jeep in hopes that I can share a positive message to any impressionable ladies out there.

You are capable of more than a number on the scale, than the size of your jeans, than the reflection in the mirror. You are capable of overcoming the constant pressure to live up to something that was created by Photoshop. You are capable of enjoying life, being active and never taking a moment for granted. Most importantly, you are capable of anything you set your mind to doing, as long as you believe you can do it.

And for that, I thank you running. Thank you running for the hours and hours of time to think. Time towards something to be proud of.

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§ 4 Responses to Taking Issue with “The Catalog”

  • Kara says:

    Have you heard about the one VS model who might get fired for losing too much weight? Apparently in their contract it states they have to have an “athletic and strong body” lol.

    All kidding aside, their bikinis are pretty awesome. I have 2 🙂

  • Errign says:

    I too occasionally shop at Victoria’s Secret, but I hate the catalogs & always through it right in the trash when it arrives at my house (I somehow have not been successful in getting them to stop sending them to me). I hate that the women look “perfect” and “flawless” and that thumbing through a catalog might make me feel bad about myself.

    I love that running has inspired you to look at your body for all of it’s strengths!

  • mom says:

    This is so absolutley true. Be happy that you have discovered what it takes most women a life time to find. This is truley a gift of the most important insite and I hope that you will be able to share this awareness with other young women. There is so much pressure from our society to strive for a beauty that comes from from an outer appearance and it should be based on feeling healthy & happy and reaching goals that allow us to help ourselves & others pysically & emotioally. So happy for you! Luv, Luv, Luv
    Mom

  • Kyla says:

    This is a fantastic post. Major props to you!

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