As Clare works both physically and mentally to love her body, she knows that she has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and wants the world to see it. However, this 25-year-old also realizes that the conversation around “body positive exercise” needs to change.
This strong woman isn’t afraid to show off her physique after a workout, but she wants others to reevaluate why they feel the need to create displays of body confidence at the gym. “Don’t get me wrong, seeing women with bodies like mine – proud and sweaty and capable and strong – has been a profound (if not essential) component of my own journey through recovery,” she wrote on Instagram with a photo that’s been “liked” over 3,900 times.
However, when Clare stops to think about the gym selfies she’s posted, it makes her see things differently. “I start to question the extent to which most of them are still stuck on ‘performing’ the act of ‘health and fitness – putting my acts of physical activity on display as if I owe the world some sort of public record of my ‘commitment to movement’ in order to be considered valid,” she wrote. “What this really is then is little more than an act of begging.”
Clare knows that lifting up her shirt and showing the world her “unconventional body” is still active and healthy helps to demolish the stereotype that “fat bodies are lazy and undisciplined,” however she wants to draw attention the other side to these photos. “In many ways, this action still REINFORCES the normative expectation that fat bodies NEED TO CONSTANTLY BE PROVING WHY THE WORLD SHOULD ‘TOLERATE’ US,” she wrote.
No matter your body type, Clare wants to show what can happen unintentionally when people feel the need to socially flaunt their workouts. “[They are] attaching value to bodies that ‘prioritize fitness’ and thereby excluding those with disabilities and health conditions … from access to that same respect,” she wrote. “It’s worth interrogating these types of actions with a little more of a critical eye – keeping in mind that what we want is not acceptance into a culture that enslaves us, but the total eradication of that culture period.”