Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Woman Running

Confession: I am a complete and utter magazine addict. I've tried that whole digital magazine thing (hated it) and have a few regular subscriptions (can't be without my Entertainment Weekly and In Style in my mailbox) but I love going to the store, seeing a new title on the shelves and picking up a new issue promising me shiny, crisp pages, life-changing advice and recipes and outfits, interviews with the famous and those I've yet to meet. I've edited a magazine and write for a few local magazines and scoff at those who crow that "print is dead!"

No, it's not. Because some of us love it too much.

Now, even with my love of magazines and proclivity to purchase obscure titles (my recent favorite? Psychology Today), I'd never been a reader of Women's Running.

I mean, it would make sense if I did. I'm a woman. and I run.

But, here's the thing. This is a magazine that normally features an ideal that I can't make. Women's fitness magazines, when they feature runners, they feature the lithe, lanky and lean ladies. That's just not me.

But this week, I did pick up a copy of Women's Running because this time on the cover, there was a picture that I could identify with. I wanted to support this magazine and this cover, and I didn't even pay attention to the words—just that strong image. There have been magazine targeting the "plus size" woman, but this is a mainstream magazine. It's kind of a big deal.

When I looked closer at those cover lines,  I saw headlines I could identify with—like "3 REASONS YOUR WEIGHT DOESN'T MATTER." And when I started reading, I was hooked.

In her editor's note, Jessie Sebor told an anecdote about how she was praised for her runner's body as an 82lb anorexic teenager. Not exactly the picture of health, but still the picture that's tagged as "healthy" when compared to, say, a 182lb woman who actually *is* a runner. Because, irony.

I've judged this magazine by its cover just like I get judged. But I'm a fan now, and I will remain so. This is an issue I will keep, not just for that cover as I planned, but for the half-marathon training plans (it's like they read my blog and my commitment to #halfbyhalf), for the strength training exercises and for the reminder about what your weight really means—or in this case, doesn't.

It made me think about body issues and my almost 11-year-old daughter. What is she thinking about, looking at all of these magazine covers strewn about the house? Is she getting messages about how she needs to look, about where she's falling short or hitting the mark?

I spread out a few current issues and asked a few questions.

WOMEN'S RUNNING featuring cover model Erica Shenk; MORE featuring
first lady Michelle Obama; SHAPE featuring trainer Jillian Michaels;
In Style featuring actress Eva Longoria.
Which woman looks smart? 
Which one looks happy? 

Who has a good job? 

Who would you go to if you needed help? 

Who is confident? 

Who is real? 

Who is pretty?

My 13-year-old son noticed us doing this and joined in. Everyone got a share of the praise—Michelle Obama looked smart and like she has a good job as first lady (I had to explain that she was also a lawyer, which impressed them), Jillian Michaels looked happy and confident because of her eyes and her posture, Eva Longoria is pretty and happy because of her smile.

But only one person looked happy, smart, confident, real, pretty, helpful and like she has a good job—Erica Shenk. Why did they think this? Because she's the only one who looks like a real person, like people they see all around them on the street and not just on TV or in the pages of magazines.

The one who looks like me. And I'm the one who is these things in real life for them—the happy, smart, confident, real and helpful woman who raises them. Maybe if I looked different they would think differently, but I'm happy that they see value in every person.


  1. Love the post, Mari! Not enough credit goes to those "wonder women" out there that aren't obsessing over their weight; they are concerned about their family, their children, their homes and their futures.

    1. Yes, exactly. And sometimes it's hard to remember that we matter when there's no confetti cannon or magazine covers to celebrate our accomplishments. But it's good to know that there are so many of us!

  2. I love that you had that conversation with them. It's important to be a smart consumer of media- and thinking about these things is a step in the right direction.

    1. Thanks, Britt! I never want my kids to feel like they don't measure up. This is a step in that direction. :)

  3. Is it dusty in here? Why are my eyes watering? Probably just allergies. Yeah, it has nothing to do with this post. That's right. Nothing to do with the post at all...

    1. Aww. Is it wrong that your tears made me happy? Not in like a sadistic way. XO