This Girl Can: Overcoming fear of Judgement in Exercise
Anxiety and insecurities can hold us back from doing all sorts of things, not least keeping fit and being physically active.
For many women, fear of judgement is the biggest barrier to most forms of exercise. One of our latest social media Poll’s told us women sack-off the idea of physical activity due to the fear of how we look when we exercise, or rather, how other people think we look: Red faces, sweat patches, our body shape and not having the “right” kit, can all be reasons to avoid it.
What’s worse, is that the same anxieties are plaguing the next generation.
How can we overcome these fears and ensure we don’t miss out on the physical, mental health and social benefits of being active, as well as prevent passing these insecurities on to our children?
20-year-old Charlotte shares her story as to how she overcame the fear of her red face.
“I gradually stopped doing all the sports and activities that I loved because I was too embarrassed. It made me feel so miserable, but I just didn’t want anyone to see me.”
I was a very active child. I did swimming lessons, karate, golf lessons and went on hikes and activity holidays. I spent lots of my spare time riding my bike, kicking a ball around or playing frisbee with my brother. I didn’t have a care in the world.
Around the time I moved to high school, I started becoming more self-conscious. For me, my insecurity was my face. I have a naturally very red face. When I laugh too hard, I go red. When I’m hot or too much attention is on me, I go red. And, when I do even the slightest amount of exercise, I go very, very RED!
As I became more aware of it, and more kids at school pointed it out and laughed, I felt more and more ashamed. I gradually stopped doing all the sports and activities that I loved because I was too embarrassed. It made me feel so miserable, but I just didn’t want anyone to see me.
I started getting a bit more active again when I discovered that covering my face with foundation would conceal the colour, but that was only a temporary solution. It actually made matters worse because it made my skin really unhealthy and I became insecure about that too!
Making a (very slow and steady) change…
I spent so much of my time wishing that I was just ‘normal’ like everyone else. It took me years to realise I was being ridiculous; what’s the point in wishing for change without even trying to do something about it?
It was my friends that eventually sparked my drive for action. I finally opened up to a few close friends about my insecurities and they told me about theirs. They taught me that it is ‘normal’ to be insecure about things, and most of the time nobody else even notices them! This was my internal battle, and only I could fight it.
I got back into swimming regularly because my face was mostly in the water, and went to a lot of spin classes where the instructors turned the lights down. Eventually, I went to my first ever bright, mirror-walled gym class without any makeup on. Nobody commented on my redness and I have never felt prouder than when I walked out of that room.
I have found every step really difficult and frankly terrifying. I am definitely still fighting my internal battle. I’m still conscious of my face, and don’t enjoy feeling looked at, but I try to no longer let it stand in the way of doing the things I love.
This Girl Can Hampshire is encouraging women across the county to give physical activity a try by sharing inspiring stories of local women such as Charlotte.
Find out more here https://www.energiseme.org/getting-active/this-girl-can/
We’re also supporting the initiative. Read our ideas on how to maximise your opportunity to exercise here.
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