I was forced to wear a hideous P.E. uniform in high school — a navy-zip-up-romper with an elastic waist and sleeves inspired by early prison fashion. If they had allowed us to wear something remotely cute, I’m positive I would have been more of an athlete as a teenager. But instead, we had to wear this frock. Our P.E. class was just as uninspired as our rompers. We endured a regular regimen of ballet, jumping jacks and laps around the gym. My how things have changed!
Jump to 2013. I recently had the privilege of leading a freshmen phys-ed class for my good friend Lacy Griffin. Lacy is my hero. She has revolutionized the P.E. uniform to include a fabulous pink t-shirt that says, “Strong is the New Skinny”. She encourages these young girls to focus on health, not appearance, which is something I wish I had when I was a teen. Lacy is passionate about fitness — and it shows through everything she does in her teaching. She has introduced the girls to lifting weights, high-intensity-interval-training and even Tae Bo.
Magazines, television and movies all place immense pressure on women to be thin by emphasizing appearance, not character. Growing up, I often felt inadequate and ugly. I compared myself to the seemingly perfect girls in magazine images — a losing battle. I dieted constantly in unhealthy ways because I thought to be beautiful, I had to be thin. I finally woke up when a friend of mine introduced me to “aerobics” classes. For the first time in my life, I felt strong — which in turn made me feel beautiful. I started to appreciate the body God gave me, and treated it like a gift and not a curse.
Whether you are a girl — or know any young girls — I encourage you to take on Lacy’s motto, Strong is the New Skinny. Focus on developing your physical strength — and strength of character — not on appearance. The rest will follow. Women who do this exhibit an inner glow that cannot be contained. That’s true beauty.