Guest Post: Why I Feel Bad About Being Good to My Body

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hey babes! Today’s post is by one of my favorite writeous babes, Mariam Williams of  Mariam shares her struggle with balancing fitness goals with her writing aspirations and her feminist ideals.

I wish I had the kind of metabolism that would allow me to abandon exercise all together. Including round-trip travel time, I spend about ten hours a week in pursuit of fitness. That doesn’t include the time it takes to wrap up whatever I was doing before the gym and change clothes, cook healthy meals, or sleep so that my muscles can recover and so I won’t use food to replenish the energy that rest should.

I shouldn’t feel bad about this, but truth is, it’s not all about health and fitness. The Writeous Babe’s post about pole dancing and feminism reminded me that my top priority in working the gym like a part-time job is to look good. I want to feel confident in my own skin, and having been about 50 pounds over the recommended weight for my height, I know I don’t feel confident about all the brilliance I have to present if I don’t think I look good.

As a writer and as a feminist, this causes a real conflict for me. A recent television appearance on a local talk show put all the negative thoughts I had 35 pounds ago—I never lost the last 15—back into my mind. I listened to myself on the half-hour broadcast, because after looking at me for 30 seconds, I was picking myself apart. Next major purchase: braces and shaving off those vampire teeth. I look better with glasses. I should’ve worn my hair in a style that shortens and frames my face.

I went after my sound, too. I wish I had the host’s voice. I should’ve done a vocal warm-up on the drive up there. Too much nervous laughter. Should’ve phrased that differently. I’m so not cut out for everything I claim to be.
Some of my self-deprecation is genuine criticism I can use to improve and grow. The rest is me engaging in the very behavior I shake my head at on the show: feeling so incapable of achieving unrealistic beauty ideals that my confidence in my intelligence and the craft I should nurture and take pride in gets shattered. I was telling myself I’m not good enough to be the writer, performer, public speaker, etc. the host introduced me as, even though those titles reflect the skills, talents and accomplishments that got me on the show in the first place.

And that’s why I feel bad about my “pursuit of fitness.” I’ve known since I hit that ugly pre-pubescent stage I sometimes feel I never grew out of that my face and body wouldn’t be my way into magazines and onto television. Writing would be. But am I writing 10+ hours a week? Pursuing it like the part-time job it’s become?

No. After a long day of working one of my six other part-time gigs or before starting them, I often have just enough energy or time for one activity: writing or exercising. I usually choose exercise. And as a sedentary (read: low calorie-burning) activity, writing is even less appealing when I’ve already sat for most of the day. Yes, it’s life-threatening to have a sedentary career, but I know that’s not why my workout trumps my writing time.

So I’m admitting it and challenging myself to find emotionally healthy ways to be a fit feminist writer.

How many other writeous babes out there have felt this way? Is a writer’s sedentary lifestyle a genuine health concern for you? Does your body confidence influence your writing confidence?

Mariam Williams is a body-conscious feminist and artist using the power of the pen to change her Louisville, Ky. home and the world. She blogs at Follow her on Twitter at

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