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There’s a new fitness selfie trend going around lately, but it’s not what you might think. Instead of the usual photos showing off a sweat-soaked shirts or biceps flexed in the gym mirror, these snaps showcase so-called body “imperfections.” Even more surprising is the fact that the people behind some of these shots are popular trainers and fitness social media stars like Jen Widerstrom and Brittany Dawn.
Both women recently posted pictures of themselves to Instagram to demonstrate that even the fittest, healthiest woman will have some skin fold over her stomach when she’s sitting down, resulting in the dreaded “stomach rolls.” They each accompanied their photos with a body-positive message to their followers stressing the fact that while every woman may see physical flaws in her pictures, the reality is that much of that mindset comes from unflattering angles; more importantly, as Widerstrom emphasized, the way you might look in one picture is by no means an indicator of your overall health or fitness level.
Dawn took this idea even further, encouraging women to see their imperfections as just another awesome element of what makes us who we are. As she puts it, “That ‘flaw’ that you see in yourself daily is a flaw that some other women might wish they had. Embrace them…The sooner you learn to love the quirks that make you, YOU…the more grounded you’ll be.”
While society as a whole certainly needs all the body positivity messages it can get, runners in particular benefit from this powerful growing movement. There’s always been somewhat of a stereotype of what a “runner’s body” is supposed to look like—long, lean and perfectly toned. And while by now we all know that runners come in many shapes and sizes and you can’t judge someone’s fitness level by their appearance, it’s still easy to sometimes fall into the self-judgement trap.
Every runner has probably had a moment of disdain for her body, whether it’s after a bad run that you blame on your weak legs or a pair of too-tight shorts that spirals into picking your body apart. Even when it comes to pictures of yourself during a race, it’s sometimes tempting to scrutinize the way certain body parts look mid-stride. The good news is that running will give you the confidence to brush most of these moments of insecurity aside and focus on positive things like your mileage or endurance accomplishments, but it never hurts to have a reminder like Widerstrom’s or Dawn’s to keep things in perspective.
Hopefully, running brings you nothing but a lifetime of joy, satisfaction, and endless endorphins, but on the occasional bad day, try and remember the major mantra we can take away from a couple of candids: The way you look does not define the kind of athlete, or person, you are. So embrace your physical differences, appreciate your body for what it can do, and if you don’t like how you look in your next selfie? Just change the angle and get on with your run.