B E B R A V E
We all want to put our best selves forward, so the concept of baring it all is scary and, at the same time, completely brave. On May 12th, 2018, I attended Dare to Bare — a fitness festival that fundraises for the Movemeant Foundation. The Movemeant Foundation is an organization that facilitates and sponsors body-positive, fitness-related education to middle school girls all over the Bay Area. The name of the fitness festival comes from their goal to promote positive body images amongst these girls, but also all women, everywhere. We should not be afraid to bare our bellies when working out. Jiggles should be expected and admired.
Lindy West, one of my body-positive heroes, said it best in the episode ‘Tell Me I’m Fat’ on This American Life (17 June 2016). “The way that we are taught to think about fatness is that fat is not a permanent state. You're just a thin person who's failing consistently for your whole life.” The act of baring it all challenges this very idea. Fatness is not a state of failure. Let’s not be afraid of fat.
I love the idea of baring it all. I firmly believe that we would all be happier, healthier people if we were more honest about our lifestyle, mental wellness, and eating habits instead of glorifying ideal images. The entire concept of creating a perfect image implies that there are imperfect images. When really, perfection is a myth. There is no perfect way of eating or looking. Each person has a different body and needs.
As someone actively trying to lose weight, you may ask why body-positivity is such an integral part of my values. Let’s get this straight. We all have fat. We are not fat. That is, we have fat cells, but fat cells don’t define us. We should all be treated with respect regardless of our weight.
I call it a fitness journey because my goal is not only to lose fat. I want to create a sustainable lifestyle for myself to eat better, increase endurance, and build muscle. I also want to help other women feel confident working out, especially if they can relate to my curvy figure. And if I never achieve my weight goals, I can still love myself and my fat.
R E V I E W
Overall, I had a great time at Dare to Bare. I donated $100 to take the VIP Barry’s Bootcamp class, which also got me 2 additional Barry’s classes at their studio (value $68), Sweaty Betty leggings (value $110), a Sweaty Betty sports bra (value $60), a Soul Cycle class (value $32), a goodie bag, and lunch. The value of the gifts alone made the event well worth it!
B A R R Y ' S
I loved the Barry's Bootcamp class! This was a condensed version led by two instructors. Even though we weren’t able to use weights, I still felt challenged with the resistance and booty bands. I don't use booty bands that often, so it was a nice change to my routine! It was a fun workout with front lunges, side lunges, squats, bicep curls, planks, and more.
F A V E S
Although I enjoyed the Barry's class, my top two events at the festival were (1) the ‘Don’t Worry, Be Yonce’ class taught by Confidance and (2) performances by the middle school girls who benefit from the Movemeant Foundation.
‘Don’t Worry, Be Yonce’ was an empowering class. I loved the strutting and posing warm-up. It gave a lot of us the confidence to dance and loosen up! Shonna (yep, she doesn’t need a last name) was a fantastic instructor. She moved with enthusiasm, grace, and in stiletto heels! Can you say fierce?
Secondly, I was very impressed by the performances from the middle school girls. There were several group performances—each with a different style of dance. I loved, loved, loved that there were so many girls of color. Imagine over 50 young girls, nervous and excited, fussing last minute with wardrobe, but also pumping each other up. Sure, the performances were not perfect, but they demonstrated incredible heart. I'm glad we got to celebrate them.
At one point, I saw one girl crying from nervousness. The other girls were consoling her. This reminded me of being their age and my anxiety public speaking. Facing one's fear is the type of experience that helps strengthen girls. I'm sure she felt miserable, but I thought it was a valuable, teachable moment.
O H, T H E I R O N Y
In keeping with the theme of baring it all, I also wanted to point out the irony of the entire festival. Yes, it was organized and led by several very strong women. However, the event was held in Marina Green Triangle. The Marina District in San Francisco has some of the best fitness clubs in the entire city, but it is also comprised of mostly white and affluent people. This was reflected by the organizers, fitness instructors, and walk-in participants.
The majority of festival participants lacked both body and ethnic diversity, especially if you compare it with the beautiful diversity of the middle school girls who they served. Representation in leadership positions is equally, if not more important than fundraising. Representation is the ultimate motivator for success because it paves the way.
Body and age diversity was present, but not to the magnitude the organization publicize. Most instructors and participants were white women with athletic builds. During the festival, I kept wishing there was a complimentary body-positive speaker that came before each workout. Part of body-positivity is the acknowledgment of body diversity.
O V E R A L L
Like I said before, the value of the gifts alone make the event worthy of attendance. Regardless of the lack of representation amongst the leadership, I was happy to support young girls boost their self-confidence. The question isn’t ‘Would I go again next year?’ The question is ‘What can Dare to Bare do to make the event better, more inclusive, next year?’
I realized that I can’t let homogeneity or affluence intimidate me from attending events or visiting beautiful spaces like the Marina Green. Change has to begin with myself. So, if I believe I have the ideas and fortitude to improve things, I can’t wait for others to make change. I have to step up. I have to be present. A few small acts of defiance can effect change.