“Medieval anatomists called women’s external genitals the “pudendum,” a word derived from the Latin pudere, meaning “to make ashamed.”
I didn’t use to take on a lot of female clients, especially females who were in my age range. This was out of respect for my wife, as I have seen this go uncomfortably wrong in my time in the industry, especially in the one-on-one setting. I also believe in the power of avoiding environments that pose much more risk than reward. We do this with exercises like the Back Squat, so why not life? Recently though, I have been taking on more female clients, and I can’t help but notice the hyper-judgmental feelings they have towards their bodies. In the clinical setting, my job is to just observe and listen. I wish I could tap into the internal monologue that these women have toward their bodies, as these sentiments tend to be very deep. Also, meeting their body comp goals doesn’t seem to alleviate that feeling of inadequacy (this is highly prevalent in males too, myself included).
I kept thinking, what can I do to help in these situations? Is this my job? Can we have a feeling of contentment with our bodies, but still be driven toward looking good in board shorts or a bikini? Is that drive rooted in evolution, or has it been created by advertising and social constructs?
Then it hit me that I need to read about sex; we all need to read about sex. We need to educate ourselves on our bodies and the bodies of the opposite sex. My dad tried to tell me this when I was 13. He said, “Ben, if you want to learn about women, the answer isn’t in pornography, it is in science.” I think he was trying to save money on our dial-up internet costs.
Women have been oppressed and objectified since forever, and I think both sexes now feel more and more ashamed by their bodies. I am not going to pretend to have the answer to this problem, but I know it isn’t sweeping it under a rug of Instagram likes.
There is a Zen practice where you stand in front of the mirror naked every day. You stare at your body and watch the thoughts that arise. Maybe you begin to chant a mantra in your mind, “breathing in – I am normal, breathing out – I am beautiful.”
On my right arm I have a tattoo that reads, “This too shall pass.” In faded letters. Many people read it and ask me what happened. That is not what it is about. It is a constant reminder of the impermanence of our physical form, as I live in an industry that clings to butts and biceps. We have a very short time on this earth. You have one body. Enjoy it. Accept it. And only share it with other humans who respect and love you.