Is it me, or have women just been body bashed to pieces on the internet lately?
In one corner, we have “Fit Mom” plastering photos of her toned physique with “What’s Your Excuse?” as a headline. Scarlett Johansson is ripped to pieces for having –gasp– cellulite. And my personal favorite, the Lululemon CEO dude who blames the infamous yoga pant fail on some customers’ bodies not being right for those pants.
Ugh. It’s kind of getting old, right? I feel like things haven’t changed much in my 36 years on this planet in terms of women, body image, and just being ok—no, being PROUD-–of the skin you live in. Isn’t anybody going to try and change this big old mess?
Actually, yes. It’s called the Mini Mermaid Running Club. And it rocks!
From their website:
Mini Mermaid Running Club, est 2009, is an afterschool running club for elementary school-aged girls. Our mission is to teach every girl to lead a healthy life by listening to her inner voice, valuing her uniqueness, learning to love movement and discovering the finish line is just the beginning. We have clubs across the United States and internationally. Our goal is to reach the girls who would typically not have access to a program such as this. We work with local governments, schools and communities to reach our most disadvantaged girls worldwide.
Yes! TOTAL awesomeness.
And they are doing it!
A few weeks ago I wrapped up my second season as a coach for a Mini Mermaid Running Club team. I co-coached this inspiring group of girls with two friends of mine. Mini Mermaid Running Club gave us a detailed and well planned curriculum for the girls for this 6 week program. In addition to gradually working their way up to running a 5k, we had activities around healthy eating, and a community service project. Included in the curriculum is a story about Mini Mermaid and Siren. Siren is your inner voice that tells you all the things that are wrong with you, that you are bad at, that you are an unworthy person…you know, all those ugly thoughts we all have. Mini Mermaid is your inner voice that tells you that you are great, you are worthy, you are amazing. At one workout we had girls write one or two things that their Siren voice would tell them, and then asked the girls what would Mini Mermaid tell them? For me , as a kid, I am sure Siren would tell me my hair was ugly and weird, and Mini Mermaid would tell me that my hair was fun and unique.
We then told the girls to take the paper with Siren’s words and rip it up to shreds. It was awesome seeing the girls ripping up the papers and squealing with delight. They have the power to shut out those Siren voices and stop them in their tracks.
The culmination of this program was running a 5k race in San Francisco. It was the Mermaid Series 5k that also had a 10k and 10 miler run going on. There were 3,500 participants in this race and I believe over 100 Mini Mermaid Running Club participants in the race. As I was at the start line surrounded by all these girls and their coaches, I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I was so honored to be part of this ground breaking organization that is changing the conversation and really making a difference in girls’ lives.
I ran/walked with some of the girls I coached. It was a beautiful day in San Francisco and we were oohing and ahhing at how amazing the Golden Gate Bridge looked on this clear day. It was great to be running a race where I wasn’t preoccupied with a PR. it was just about the enjoyment of the day and also choosing times to push our bodies and run harder. I crossed the finish line with one of the girls and saw her mom cheering her on and screaming her name, She had a big smile on her face as she watched her 8 year old accomplish this challenge.
A few days later, our team had a potluck to celebrate the end of the season. The girls took turns talking about their favorite part of the race. What shocked me was most girls said that they liked that everyone did so well. It wasn’t about “I am glad I ran fast” it was “I liked that the team cheered me on.” There was a kindness in this room that these girls shared with one another that you don’t encounter that often.
At the end of the party one of the girls came over to me and gave me a card she made. It was a picture of me and said, “Jill, thank you for being my coach.”
My heart melted and I was really trying to keep those tears in.
I can’t wait for the next season to start.
In the meantime, I can still make a difference. And so can you. I am donating $125 today to help the Mini Mermaid Running Program’s video project so they can get the word out to MORE girls! Why $125? Well, I am calling that my anti-yoga pant donation…I could spend that money on overpriced yoga pants from a company that tells me my body isn’t right for their product, or I can spend that money on a program that teaches girls that the finish line is just the beginning.
Please join me in supporting this amazing organization—you can donate here.