[RENAY] Hey, hello and welcome to ...That’s When You Get a Dog, the podcast BOWFOW, by old women for old women.
We’re here, episode 3, thanks for listening guys, the support has been amazing. I’ve said this before but if you like what you hear, go ahead and leave us a review on your fave podcast app as these reviews help the show get discovered and if you’re not a review person, why not tell 5 friends about the show we’re on all the apps Acast, Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Overcast, RadioPublic, Stitcher and pretty much all the places podcasts are.
Let’s get to it, your new Ronnie fact is Ronnie hates new toys, he won’t touch things I buy until they are around 10 months old. His favourite thing to to steal from other dogs, those are the toys he really cherishes. What a weirdo, right?
Now, anchor time.
*My Body’s nobody body but mine, you run your own body let me run mine*.
Yes, the body episode. That was a song we sang at primary school, I think it was to teach us about only doing things you’re comfortable with. Good message.
Body image, we have social media, magazines, television, people in real life so many messages are out there. It’s clear to me that all mediums unify on the message that, young and skinny is beautiful. You have options to have big boobs or big butts or both, but that’s usually where the options end.
According to dosomething.org approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. In a survey, more that 40% of women would consider plastic surgery in the future. Interestingly in the same survey 20% of men felt the same way.
In 2016 beauty brand dove released their global beauty and confidence report, the report featured data from over 10,000 women from 13 different countries. Some key highlights were 65% women cited pressure from advertising and media to reach unrealistic body goals as a key force in driving appearance anxiety and 85% of women said they opt out of life activities such as joining a team or club or engaging with family and loved ones when they don’t feel good about the way they look.
All these percentages are really high and I can absolutely believe 91% aren’t happy with their bodies, I’m definitely one of them. There are no right answers with body image as it is a very personal thing so I wanted to get some opinions of women who are out there using their bodies in different ways. First up is MUIReAnn Carey-Campbell aka Bangs and a Bun is Elle Magazine’s fitness editor, spin instructor and blogger.
[BANGS] When I got into fitness I discovered the feeling of euphoria that comes with a good workout. I realiSed nobody ever really talks about that. Traditional media has always kind of pitched fitness to us as a weight loss thing as a way for us to get our bodies to look a certain way. When I started working out it was legitimately because I had been feeling not right, something just wasn't sitting in me correctly so like I should probably just start moving. And when I started doing that and kind of discovered endorphins and finished my first boxing workout and felt like oh my god I just want to do that again, I want to do it all the time and I want everybody to feel like this. When I discovered that feeling I was first of all really relieved that I felt that really excited that I felt that and then that kind of turned to like confusion at why we have not been told about this.
[RENAY] So why does exercise make us feel better? I did my googles and came across an article on FastCompany.com which asked the question ‘What triggers happiness in our brain when we exercise?’
If you start exercising your brain recognises this as a moment of stress, as the heart beat hastens our brain thinks we’re either fighting an enemy or fleeing it. To protect the brain from stress, the body releases a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor). BDNF has a reparative element to the memory and acts as a reset switch, which is why we can feel at ease and things seem clearer after exercising.
While all that is going on endorphins are also released in our brain. Endorphins can minimiSe the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain and have even been associated with the feeling of euphoria, and who doesn’t like feeling euphoric, I know I do.
[BANGS] If you're just on the couch, trying to find your way into a healthier life. And it's always been pitched to you as a chore as something that is designed to make you look a certain way, but none of the other benefits of it are being pitched to you, it's really off putting and of course you're not going to get involved.
I came around to that way of thinking just literally by doing and I would also preface it by saying when I initially started working out I was a bit chunkier than I usually was so because I've been raised in this system of thinking my body's not quite good enough that way so I should make it look this way. There was probably an underlying thing in there of maybe I should lose a few pounds although to have looked at me at that time and now in retrospect I was fine, but these messages all the time of like you should lose those love handles you should get your belly a bit flatter, you should do whatever. So I think there was probably an underlying aspects of that but it was more to do with I'm not feeling great, and then once I've found that feeling of like my God I feel incredible I feel more confident and all the other things that went with it. I was just like OK let me just shout that from the rooftops all the time.
[RENAY] It would be great if we could all think this way.
[BANGS] It's all to do with how we look, that is our sole value as women, what we're taught through mainstream media all the time and I think especially when you get to a 30s or mid 30s as I am now you just get sick of it. You get more comfortable in your own skin as you get older and you peep the game, like I see what they're trying to do there and I'm not going to fall for it because I actually I like who I am. You kind of become a bit more naturally resistant to those messages. The way the fitness industry pitch to women constantly is to lose weight or to make your body look a certain way. That body ideal was never decided by us, the patriarchy has decided that for us. You can look back to Victorian ages with corsets, whatever the body type was, men had a hand in making that the ideal and if we want to get deep into that, that all comes down to attractiveness obviously being linked to fertility and men wanting to procreate with us, the more attractive you are to men the more likely our chances of procreation and then you know the human race continues. I get it, however, the way that that's trickled down into every single aspect of the way that we live and especially as women the way that we're seen, our total worth and value as women is always tied up in the way that we look so that is naturally translated through fitness into workout to lose or even when you don't need to lose weight. I see chicks in the gym talking about fasted cardio and trying to lose a couple pounds and they're like tiny as is. So that mentality is so dangerous. Creams that get rid of cellulite. This is not a thing like it’s alright to have cellulite. Getting a six pack in six weeks, flat tummy, thigh gap. I don't want a summer body or a bikini body. I just want my body to function the way I want it to function and be happy in. Which is probably the biggest threat to the beauty industry, the fitness industry. My mentality is not what they want.
[RENAY] The whole, this and that can get rid of cellulite, I can’t believe they're still allowed to get away with selling this message. Cellulite is genetic but also happens to pretty much every woman apart from the lucky ones where their genes have sorted them out. The message needs to be cellulite is normal.
[BANGS] I do understand that's not the case for everyone I do understand it is a journey to get there and it can be frustrating.
I think it just kind of gets amplified now with people like the Kardashians and stuff, this Hollywood beauty which is such an extreme, let's be honest fake way of looking, their like dolls you know and not just the Kardashians, when I look at a lot of actresses in Hollywood they're just cookie cutter, people you can’t tell one from the other. We're stripping people of their individuality and we're making people hate themselves.You’ve just got to stand firmly, boldly in who you are.
[RENAY] For the record, I’m not against plastic surgery. I haven’t had any work done but if there’s something you're not happy with, hell yeah get it done. Make-up, hair extensions, heels, padded bras, spanx, laser eye surgery, teeth braces etc all those things wouldn’t exist if we all just worked with what we had.
Bangs is clearly a very confident person, where did that come from?
[BANGS] I would definitely attribute that confidence to fitness to be honest. I was always a dancer when I was younger. And then through my 20s I kind of stopped doing anything. During those, what I call the couch potato years, there wasn't a lot of confidence. I felt very lost in my life in my 20s. I think my confidence grew once I started working out and discovered that feeling of the ability of what my body can do, just how incredible your body is. That's what helps me grow in body confidence.
I think the more I start to do physically the more I try to push myself the more I try to challenge myself. I just kind of got more love and appreciation for my body, exactly how it is. I would class myself as pretty damn fit, my body I don't think now looks drastically different to my body of 10 years ago, but I'm way fitter now than I was in my 20s. You know I'm a spin instructor. I instruct people everyday like women in their 20s who I can slay them on a bike, but you got a snatched waist, the nice little six pack and all that, cool, but I’m way fitter than you. You know what I mean, so you're going to deal with this jiggle while I kick your ass.
That's more important to me actually like. It's important that people see that you can be a little chunky and fit.
[RENAY] Bang’s isn’t chunky as she exercises way more than the average person but I do see what she’s saying about the need of representation in fitness.
[BANGS] Fitness gets you there because that's one of the few times where you're really vulnerable. To put your body in someone else's hands be in a fitness class or in a gym or any kind of environment if you're even out running on the road like you're vulnerable there because other people can see you doing that and you might not feel great about it. You're having this like internal mental battle every step of what you're doing, every punch you throw every step you take while you're running every sit up you do. Can I do this. Do one more. When you get to the end of that workout you're like I can do it. I absolutely can do that. There's a confidence that comes in that like you just start to care less and less of like oh well I don't have that perky butt or I don't have that six pack but I just slayed that class like what the hell else can I do.
[RENAY] It really is fun to push yourself, I love trying things I couldn’t do or thought I’d never do.
[BANGS] You know you hit 30 and you see how you kind of instantly start getting ignored, becomes kind of a bit of a lost decade in the run up to your 40s where you just get ignored altogether. So I think everybody just tries to hold on to youth, but people age. Nobody can avoid it. None of us are ever going to be able to freeze time. I personally don't feel that pressure for me. I'm kind of really enjoying the agEing process. Redefining what agEing means to me. I'm 36, my mother at 36 had two children and she was a very different 36 to me. Her mother was in a very different place to her. So to me my age is amazing. What I care about is making some good money helping my parents retire do what I need to do taking care of my life and my business. When you're 22, life is very different, they don't have real life concerns yet. The veneer of social media can't really show you anything, right, everybody is kind of faking their life to an extent. I definitely don't feel the need to compete with that because I can only be me.
You could not pay me to be 25 again cause it what a frickin confusing time in life.
It was not enjoyable. You're just always kind of wracked with this lack of confidence and hardly any self-esteem, nah mate, been there, done that. I do not long for it.
[RENAY] Ha I feel the same way, although if I could go back and whisper in my 25 year old self’s ear, I definitely would.
[BANGS] My grandmother just passed a few weeks ago and she was 88. She was like frozen in time to me at about seventy like she just kind of didn’t and really seem to age. To look at her she was an old woman and she'd been an old woman since she was about 50. For her generation that's how life went, she had two kids by 21 she was married so you know she was a housewife her whole life, and so I think that generation aged very quickly. My generation, listen I'm not going to have kids. Who knows if I'll ever get married. It's not like a requirement for me, so my life is going to be very different. I think I'm going to be like the coolest frickin 80 year old that any of these young people have seen, you know. So to me that's super exciting.
[RENAY] With body image comes age perceptions, I wondered what Bang’s thought of the phrase growing old gracefully.
[BANGS] I think it’s quite an old timey term. I think that is something that my grandmother would have appreciated. Both my grandmothers did grow old very gracefully. I have no grace. So I want to grow old wildly I wanna grow old boldly on a grow old in so many awesome ways. I think to me the connotation of that is kind of just slip away into the dark and just go over there. You know it's part of this thing of like old people not being seen. I will do whatever I feel I want to do at that age whatever my body's going to allow me to do whatever my mind is still intending to do. Growing old gracefully while I appreciate the sentiment. I if I really feel like I connect with that.
[RENAY] That was the super impressive Bangs and a bun, I hope one day I find that passion for exercise. I think it’s in me somewhere.
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As you all know I’ve not had any children yet, I wanted to know how your opinion on body image changes after carrying a child. I spoke with Suzy Coulson from The Backstory Podcast to get her thoughts.
[SUZY] I kind of feel like I have the body that I deserve. I'm 46, I've had three kids, I used to be overweight, I may be a little bit past my best, tired around the edges but also I think being reasonable shape, I exercise every day, I'm very careful with what I eat so there’s maybe a lot in there that I would like to change but actually I do have the body I deserve. If I could swap bodies with Kate Moss then I really don't think I would. I mean I'm pretty attached to the one that I’ve got.
[RENAY] I was intrigued by Suzy’s phrasing, the body she deserved. I asked her why she says deserve, I mean we usually say we deserve things if we’ve feel we missed out on something we’ve worked for or maybe if we’ve done something wrong and we deserve the consequence. I’ve never thought about using the word with the body I have although I guess I do deserve it?
[SUZY] Choices that we make have implications, I don’t think I took care of myself at all when I was younger, that has it’s legacy and now that I'm older I take much better care of myself so I get the benefits. Kind of sounds a little bit judgmental maybe to say deserve but bodies kind of reflects the lives that we're looking and the choices that we're making and I think that mine reflects the choices that I've made in the past and how I'm living today.
I think I maybe trust my body quite a lot, you know I think there’s something quite amazing about your body growing baby and then feeding a baby and I remember when my first daughter was six months old, she'd been exclusively breastfed until that stage and I remember thinking God you know all of that has come from my body and that is quite incredible. I think maybe what changed after having children was also that feeling of needing to be me, you know I got to a stage where I really really was ready to give up breastfeeding , I fed them all until they were a year and after that I was really ready to stop and I just really had that strong sense of just wanting my body to belong to me again and wanting to, I don’t know, maybe wanting to dress a certain way and kind of resisting slipping into feeling like her mom all the time. It was really important to me that separation that sense of getting my body back. You know I remember just wanting to be able to. When you're pregnant too when you're breastfeeding you’re so careful about what you eat and what you drink and actually I wanted to get back to a stage where I could have what I wanted to have and where I could wear clothes where I wasn't having to accommodate feeding a child and just that sense of wanting my body to be my own again was it was quite a strong thing for me.
[RENAY] I was speaking to my friend about this episode, she recently stopped breastfeeding her daughter and one of the things she said she was looking forward to was wearing dresses. She said she couldn’t wait to not have to dress for easy boob access. It’s a World I know nothing about, this wouldn’t have even crossed my mind.
[SUZY] I had my last child at 40, I think that combination of knowing that she was my last and knowing that I was just about to turn 40 those two things kind of sharpen the mind and you have that sense of it’s now or never. It's really hard to identify what gets you into that place. If you're going to make a big life change, I think you've got to get your head in the right place first. And for me I don't think I tried to change all of my habits overnight. You know I haven't been taking particularly good care of myself and I knew that I wasn't going to wake up the next day and suddenly be a kind of paragon of good health, so what I did was I started changing one habit at a time, habit number one was stopping having Twix bars and then I just embedded that habit and bit by bit changed my behavioUr and was able to become kind of stricter and stricter with myself to the extent that I am now where I am really pretty strict with myself, I exercise every single day, it's not a huge amount, it's about maybe 25 minutes but that's long enough just to keep things ticking over. I drink loads of water. I skip breakfast. I'm very very strict with what I eat. I count my calories very carefully. So it's probably not the healthiest way of doing it but it's maybe the healthiest way that I can do and it's certainly a lot better than I used to be. I think I'm one of those people with an appetite that just doesn't stop. But the way that I do it now is that I'm really really strict on a day to day basis and my way eating with friends so when it's special occasions or whatever then I'll have a bit of a blowout, you know there's only so much damage you can do in one meal. That seems to be enough.
[RENAY] Let’s face it, there is no one size fits all to weight loss, I wish there was. There are thousands and thousands of articles with tips and tricks but it seems to me anyone who has lost weight, goes to bed hungry and it really is a sad state of affairs, especially if you love all the good food.
I asked Suzy whether the messaging in the media and social media affect her.
[SUZY] You know I'm sure that I'm kind of susceptible to these messages like anyone else. I do feel really strongly that we shouldn't be body shaming. We need to kind of back off commenting on other people's bodies you know it feels like it's the last area where prejudice is acceptable. Calling people fat making and comments on their body shape seems to happen way too much and I just think that everybody needs to back off, it's really not acceptable to be making those kind of comments. You know I've got three daughters and I feel very strongly about the messages that they're growing up with. So yeah I would love to say that none of us were affected by this but I think we are massively and I think we need to kind of challenge it when people are body shaming when people are making comments. I
think we need to be calling it out much more than we do. The world would be a better place if we just stopped commenting on other people's body shapes. Full stop. You don't know what people's particular hangups are you don't know where they're at and I think it's such a personal thing and it's it's used in such a shameful way and I just don’t think any of us have got the right to be doing that to other people.
[RENAY] And ageing, the thing every woman is told to fear...we don’t but you know that’s not the message that spreads. I wanted to know whether Suzy had the same view as Bangs.
[SUZY] At the grand old age of 46 and I care about it not everybody gets older. Some people might make it to old age and I'm not quite in old age yet but a lot of people didn't make it beyond their 30s and 40s so it means you're still around. I think it definitely gives you a sense of you don't quite have that sense of inevitability you have when you’re younger. You know Health problems but maybe when you're in your 20s or 30s seeing like that way off in the distance I think when you get a little bit older suddenly they seem a bit more realistic and that need to take care of yourself kind kicks in. But I think it gives me a sense of connection to women who are older than me and also a connection to women who were younger than me you know I think we shouldn't be kind of pitting the generations against each other we should be seeing what we've got in common and seeing how we can support each other because there are issues that affect us all. I think there are maybe a few myths as you get older you know people say that you don't care what others think about you but I think you still care what other people think about you I know I do. But I also think this idea that things are fixed by a certain age, I don't think I believe that there's always room to change and to grow and you know like in my case just because you've been overweight for however many years, it doesn't mean you get a stay like that. There's always scope for change. So yeah I feel pretty good about getting older.
[RENAY] Suzy is right, ageing is not guaranteed and with every year we collect, we become better anyway.
There are many messages out there regarding what we should think about our bodies, love your body as it is, you don’t need to lose weight, you’re too fat lose weight, you’re too skinny eat a burger, you’re too muscular etc etc Basically if you have a body and you’re a woman, people have something to say about it. I sat down with bodybuilder Lorraine aka Miss Lala.
[MISS LALA] I've recently gone on a journey of fitness which I've been documenting on my Instagram page. I have just finished competing in bikini sections and bodybuilding shows. I've just actually finished my second show. I'm in bulk season.
[RENAY] Bulk season, what is that I hear you asking… So obviously I got on Google and found myself at bodybuilding.com and there I learned that in bodybuilding you work in two seasons, bulk and cut. Bulk comes in the fall, Autumn/Winter seasons and cut is Spring/Summer. Basically bulk season is what it sounds like, you bulk up, you build muscle, gain weight and increase strength.
Cutting season is losing fat, losing weight and getting as lean as possible.
[MISS LALA] I come from a very fitness enthusiastic family, my mom is a personal trainer, my brother also competes and he's a MMA fighter as well. I've grown up in a very very sporty environment. And as much as I've always loved sport I've always had an issue with food in that I eat too much of it and I've always been like that even as a child going to McDonald's and stuffing my face with things I shouldn't eat. Consequently when I got to my teens I put on a lot of weight. I think because I was tall and was a tomboy, I wasn't really too fussed about it because I was quite happy to kind of hide my body under quite baggy clothes. It got to a stage where I just thought, I really want to do something about this but I don't know what to do. My mom, she used to take me with her to her classes she used to teach, she’d do this deliberately to kind of introduce me to another side of fitness, got involved, knowledgeable about the gym and gym industry. So fast forward to today I think it's kind of rubbed off.
We have this thing where you know we'll see somebody who we think has an amazing figure and then we'll do things to try and attain said figure and we'll do things totally just outside of what is right for us as individuals because we're looking at somebody else. We don't know if they're just naturally light or if they're doing something that perhaps isn't good for the m in order for them to get to that shape or maybe they're doing something which is actually quite healthy for them. The media have a lot to do with that because there are so many different mixed messages in regards to like weight loss and what’s healthy and what isn't healthy. And we tend to kind of sift through all these different messages looking for the quick fix when the reality is there's no such thing as a quick fix. Our bodies are designed to be active, if you're sitting down and looking at a pill that says yes I can make you lose weight but the fact of the matter is it’s nonsense.
[RENAY] It’s crazy what we’re sold in order to lose weight, I’ll be honest I did have my protein world slender blend but it tasted gross.
[MISS LALA] People tend to look on social media, looking at people, seeing their bodies and like, she did it like that, I'm going to do it. I'm going to buy waist trainers, I'm going to buy a sweat suit, I'm going to do this that nobody asks questions. Everybody just runs out, see what they see and they just buy it. So I think it's just a question of people kind of not wanting to do their research just wanting to have the quick fix and the social media and media in general just kind of play into that and they just sell sell sell push push push an image.
[RENAY] Do you remember those tablets that stopped you absorbing fat? My cousin and his wife tried it, they said fat literally leaked from their butts, they couldn’t go to work. All this to lose weight. It’s mad. If you go to Miss Lala’s instagram you can see she has some pretty impressive Transformation Tuesdays, how did she do it?
[MISS LALA] When I got to my late teens in my early 20s the weight slowly started coming off. It wasn't coming off in a way that was healthy because I wasn’t doing healthy things to lose it. Then I had to start doing my own research. Understanding that from the age of 25 you actually start to lose muscle and you lose muscle, so your skin starts to hang and everything. This is the healthiest I've ever been in my entire life because everything is now balanced. It's like I've got the energy to do the work I need to do. My body has literally transformed.
I was doing things like spending far too long in the gym, I was doing far too much cardio, I wasn't lifting any weights, over eat and then you think, I’ll just go to the gym burn it off. That doesn't work. I never did things like laxatives or pills or anything because them kind of things they scare me, like I, I won't do that. The over-eating, for me was a problem.
If you have a particular body type that you like, I say is look at athletes at the top of their game, like really look at their body structure. If you look at a female sprinter, look at her body look at how they're properly toned like they're still very small but everything is just kind of like muscle whereas a marathon runner, their shape is straight up and down hardly any fat hardly any muscle like look at the two disciplines. So obviously those are two extremes but you need to decide to yourself, right the body type I kind of want to attain is more either that one or that one. So therefore I need to train more like the sprinter or I need to train more like the marathon runner if that is how you want to look. Obviously not to the extent that they do but that's what you should be doing.
[RENAY] As someone who documents her fitness journey, I wanted to know what Miss Lala thought about people like Tayana Taylor and Beyonce getting body shamed for looking good after having children. Sounds stupid but I’ve seen it, it’s crazy.
[MISS LALA] We spend so much time looking at other people, even begrudging them or being envious and not kind of taking the time to kind of look at ourselves and trying to be the best versions of ourselves. I don't understand this idea of begrudging people when they achieve something. That's a great thing. It's interesting because I was speaking to friends of mine recently in regards to how we kind of procrastinate when it comes to losing weight. A friend of his was saying that oh you know I'm just I'm naturally big so I'm just going to stay this way. The fact that she says that she's going to stay this way suggests to me that she knows that if she wanted to, she could do something about losing the weight if that's what she so desired. You've actually made a conscious decision that you don't want to do that and you're quite happy to stay the way that you are. And if that's the case that is totally fine but then if you're moaning about Beyonce Tayana, whoever it is, RIHanna, then clearly what that says to me is that you're not entirely happy with yourself.
My motto is, I steal a this from my mom is all you need to look good for the age that you're at. If you’re like 35 and you’re trying to compete with a 20 year old what the hell is wrong with you, it’s a battle you're never going to win. You’re just not. So just be happy in yourself. Just feel amazing moving yourself. It's OK if you feel like you're still 19. Sometimes I'll forget. Oh my god. I'm like 39 and blah blah blah. It doesn't ring true in my head but I know that I am at the same time. I would never have tried to compete with someone who is 18 19. What? Why? I have enough issues and problems going on in my life. I'm going to add that on top of it you know I'm just me.
[RENAY] And there you have it, all the women align on basically not giving a damn about ageing and it’s true we have so much going on, getting older is inevitable, so who cares. I’ve been claiming the word old for ages anyway, I don’t feel a day over 25 and I have a feeling that’s going to stay that way for a while.
Our bodies are what we live in day and night and if we look in the mirror we can all point out at least 50 flaws on it but you know what we are way harder on ourselves than any stranger could ever be. I am far from perfect with this, I sometimes feel like a sausage, look in the mirror and can’t figure out why my makeup doesn't look like the girls on Instagram but that’s life, we have to re-programme ourselves to love what we see in the mirror and I don’t mean just say it but really mean it. Our bodies are ours and no one outside of ourselves should dictate to us what makes it beautiful.
I want to thank Bangs, Suzy and Miss Lala for sharing their views. That’s When You Get a Dog is produced by me, Renay Richardson additional recording for this episode was done by Cass Denton, our original music is by Aaron Williams and cover art by Adam Cohen.
The show is available everywhere, why not leave a review on Apple Podcasts, subscribe on Castbox and tweet a RadioPublic link. Share on twitter that you are listening to the show using our #GetADogPod and follow @GetADogPod or me@renayrich or both. Next week Sophie will be back for the debrief.