My friend Kelly posted this Nike ad as her Facebook photo this week. I immediately loved it. I love the photo. I love the text. I love the idea behind it. The entire campaign takes women’s scorned, maligned body parts and shines a positive spotlight on them. There is an ad for big butts, thunder thighs, man shoulders, tomboy knees, and stick legs. I so wanted to find an ad like Kelly had that I could relate to and that could be my inspiration. Sadly, none of them worked with my body issues. While my butt is what I call “fluffy” (as opposed to flat), it would be unfair to characterize it as big. I do have muscular thighs, but they are not actually thunderous. I am not broad shouldered from swimming because my idea of swimming is sitting poolside with a Coke Zero and my iPod. And, while I do occasionally have tomboy knees acquired from falling while inline skating or not clipping out of my bike pedals fast enough, that one doesn’t truly resonate with me either. My legs, belonging to a woman of approximately 5’4″, are not even remotely long or stick-like. Wait a minute. None of these fit because I have no body flaws? Impossible! My hyper self-critical mind simply wasn’t looking hard enough.
So, I took a good, long look at my entire body today, reviewing its perceived imperfections from head to foot. I thought it might be fun to create my own inspirational ad since Nike didn’t bother to make one that suits me. I’d lose the message of the campaign if I attempted to put a positive spin on my “too many Hot Tamales” muffin top or my arms that have that aging woman, chicken-fat thing going on where my triceps used to be, so I scratched those off the list of possibilities. I kept thinking. The only thing that might be campaign appropriate are my large calves. The ad could read like this: “I have bulky calves. They get bruised from my ski boots, make it difficult to pull off my skinny jeans, and remind me all too much of Popeye. But, they get me places. They crank up stairs at Red Rocks and whip through miles on my bike. They’re not dainty, but they could kick your butt.” Okay. Okay. I’m not exactly Don Draper in the advertising business, but you get the idea.
I noticed that an odd thing occurred as I reflected on my body and its imperfections today: they seemed to disappear. Yes. My calves are bulky and not traditionally effeminate, but any day I’d take my muscular legs over another woman’s long, straight, piano legs. There’s also nothing wrong with my butt, which has that C-curve from doing chair pose and crescent lunge in power yoga, but at least it fills out the pockets of my jeans. That extra skin that comprises my muffin top? I earned that by carrying two small beings around on my inside for nine months…each! Think about how amazing that is. Every scar, bruise, and imperfection is part of my story, part of the whole of me. My body isn’t perfect, but neither is anyone else’s…no matter how enviable they seem.
Do I think Nike’s ad campaign was successful? Well, it didn’t make me want to run out and buy any Nike gear, but it did make me think. Mary Engelbreit said, “If you don’t like something — change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” I’m going to work to change the way I think about my body. It might not be worthy of a photo shoot in a Victoria’s Secret catalog, but it’s strong, healthy, and capable. That in itself is pretty awesome.