What might happen if we step outside our comfort zone and do something we wouldn’t normally be brave enough to do?
I belong to a Facebook group for women runners that challenged us to declare our independence from body shaming and self-insecurity. “Remove the Shirt – Run and Embrace You” asked us to take off our T-shirt and run just in a sports bra.
It didn’t have to be a race or a set distance. It just needed to be outside. Participants posted a selfie to the group.
“Why are we are own worst critics? We only get one body. One life,” wrote blogger Kelly Roberts, of Run Selfie Repeat, in an article for Women’s Running. “The only way we will feel proud of what we see when we look in the mirror is if we stop wasting our time wishing we looked different.”
The call to do this went out about a month ahead of Independence Day. Many of us needed at least that long to psych ourselves up for this. Many of us (myself included) also needed time to shop for a sports bra that was suitable to see the light of day.
Funny thing though – the shirtless selfies didn’t stop on July 4. Throughout this month, women in our group have continued to share their photos and stories. And seeing so many get on board with this, and talk about how liberating the experience has been, has given others confidence to do it too.
Some only ran for a quarter mile before putting their shirt back on. Some eased into it, doing it after the sun went down, under cover of darkness. Some haven’t gone outside yet, but have done it inside. But we’re making progress. And we’re cheering each other on.
Yesterday I finally did it too. I put on my new pink and black sports bra and headed to a well-populated local trail. I ran 3.1 miles.
And it was all good. I encountered no scornful looks, no cries of horror, no catcalls, and probably just as many friendly waves and “good mornings” as usual. Nobody around me cared.
I liked how it felt, feeling the breeze more than usual. Running in just a sports bra is lighter and cooler. I like how my long hair felt on my back. And my self-consciousness about my tummy helped my posture while running.
Kelly Roberts wrote, “It wasn’t until I started running that I learned that confidence isn’t something you acquire when you look a certain way, it’s a state of being that comes with feeling a certain way. STRONG.”
Don’t focus on the number on the scale. Don’t let the fish-white underbelly blind you. Don’t worry about curves or stretch marks. And find your tribe that will support you in your efforts to love yourself as is. Feel strong.