By: Blake Clark
I have never been truly comfortable with my body. As most young girls, always thought I was too big. I scrutinized every inch of my body and found something that did not belong or could look better. As a little black girl in a mostly white community, it was easy to find reasons to dislike how I looked. In my mind, my butt was too big, my hips too wide, my stomach too pudgy. I could go on. It didn't help that I grew up in a family where my weight was a topic of conversation. My nickname in my family was, "Big booty Blake" or "Man-hands." Not exactly the things a young girl with self-esteem issues needs to hear. I wish I could say that as I got older, I just miraculously woke up and loved my body. Don't get me wrong, as I got older my self-esteem grew. I am (most of the time) self-confident and happy with who I am and who I am becoming. But those damn body image issues just wouldn't go away. No matter how confident and assured I was in other aspects of my life, this one little (or big) piece kept nagging at me. It affects other parts of your life. During interviews in the back of my mind was a little voice saying, "Damn, that answer would have sounded so much better if this suit didn't show off how big my stomach is." Okay, so maybe I'm the only one that has those thoughts. :)
So, when I begin running it was for several reasons. I wanted to find a new hobby/activity that I could do with my friends. I wanted to get healthy. But even bigger for me, I wanted to lose weight and finally get the body that I always dreamed of having. In my mind, I would start running and run into runner's legs, a flat stomach, toned arms, and smaller clothes. But what I've learned is that my body is beautiful because of what it can do. I still have weight to lose. I still have arms that jiggle. I still have pudgy stomach. But I love my body. I love its strength, its endurance, its ability to go distances and places I never would have thought possible. When I begin running 4 months ago, I would have never imagined that I could run EIGHT miles straight. I did not know my body was capable of running 10 minute miles. Every time I break a personal record, I am reminded of how much my body is capable of. And I fall in love. With me. Running has proven that my body is beautiful because of what it can do. And that fact, in and of itself, makes me beautiful. Never once on a run has my body failed me. Every time my mind yells, "Quit. I can't take this," my body says, "Shut the hell up and run. I've got this." I love what my body can do. And I can't wait to see how far I can take it. So, when I step on the scale in the morning and curse because it hasn't changed, I just have to remember that my legs took me 8 miles. And that is beautiful.
Blake Clark is a member of BGR! New Orleans. She is a "newbie" runner, and only has been running the last five months. She has a short term goal of running a marathon for her 26th birthday in January 2013. Her long term goals include documenting her journey on her blog, BeautyAgainstTheBeast.com.