(and why it was probably the best thing that could have happened)
My cross-country bestie (being the AMAZING, KICK-ASS, INSPIRING, RIDICULOUS, WONDERFUL and so-many-other-adjectives boss lady that she is) offered to give me a full photoshoot.
Holy cats YES.
I planned out my outfits, I finally got around to buying a sports bra that properly fit me (sidenote: dear heavens, to all womankind, buy a sports bra that fits - it’s a revelation), I had a spreadsheet of the types of headshots I wanted, of the specific poses I wanted, what I would be wearing for each - I was in organizing, color-coding, HEAVEN.
Day of the shoot. We started with some headshots to warm up, sang far too loudly to the soundtrack to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (j/k, one can never sing along too loudly to favorite musical numbers), and suddenly it was time to move on to the form shots.
Thankfully my dear friend is a very mindful and kind photographer, so after a couple of shots we had a check in to make sure I was getting the shots I wanted.
And I wasn't.
I was a little frustrated. The forms I was demonstrating were decent, the shots were good, but I wanted to be able to add on graphics with arrows and text and all the bells and whistles to make it incredibly accessible to understand how each pose is broken down. Yielding to the talented eye of the photographer, I asked what was going wrong: she said it was because though my shirt was tight (already something I was uncomfortable with) it was far too dark to really see my form properly and maybe I should take it off.
Commence small meltdown.
SIDE NOTE: There’s a weird pressure as a Pilates instructor to both look like a poster-child for the exercise you teach and tout and still look like a real person. It’s an impossible standard - let’s be real, it’s a paradox by the conventional stereotype of what a Pilates instructor looks like - and it doesn’t leave much room for varying body types. Thankfully, I do think that the “face of Pilates” archetype is changing to a certain extent as more and more instructors of all shapes and sizes are getting more vocal about their practice, but I’m afraid stereotypes are still far behind.
And again, my friend is a rock star. She listened to me, she talked to me, and we ended up having a great conversation about body image and body love. And we talked about how hard it is to see oneself with honesty and love. And at one point she took off her own shirt and grabbed her belly and shook her own belly rolls at me. So we cried again, this time with laughter.
And somewhere along the line, she made the point that she could always do some editing to smooth out my midsection. And at the same time, if I’d be ok with it, she’d rather not because it’d be pretty great to see a Pilates instructor regularly using photos with belly rolls as demo photos, and not just in the usual body positivity Instagram posts. Just have it as a normal part of that instructor’s teaching.
So I did. And I do.
I mean, to a certain extent I always have, but now I’m not hiding it and I’m not pointing it out every chance I get. It’s just part of who I am as an instructor. It's just a part of Megan Dowd Pilates.
I’ve got some belly rolls. My arms do NOT look like Michelle Obama’s. I will ALWAYS have trouble finding pants that fit my thighs in relation to my waist. And it’s all ok.
Because bodies are weird and wonderful and AMAZING.
Belly rolls and all.
And if you're in the Bay Area, seriously, check out Molly Kate Photography.