It was one of the best, yet saddest jobs I ever had.
In college, I worked at the only tanning salon in town. Confession: I loved it. However, there was one part of my job that I dreaded more than any other—giving spray tans. (But not for the reasons you might be thinking… keep reading. And if you've read this blog before, you need to read it again).
Since this was the only spray tanning place in town, I saw women of all ages, sizes, skin tones and height. I spray tanned college girls, high school seniors for prom, moms, teachers, business owners, and more. I saw tons of women at their most vulnerable state—naked, in front of a mirror, while another woman (that would be me) stood in front of them. Read over that last sentence. It kind of sounds like a bad dream, am I right?
Right before a spray tanning appointment, my heart would sink. It’s because I knew there was an 80% chance that the woman I would be spraying would say one or all of the following about herself:
- “I haven’t worked out in forever!”
- “Don’t judge me; I just had a baby.”
- “Oh, gosh, I can’t believe I’m about to be naked in front of this mirror, in front of you!”
- “I hope I feel better about myself after this is finished.”
- “I can’t believe I have let myself get to this point.”
- "If I could just lose this last 10lbs I would be happy."
- Or the worst… “Wow, I’m disgusting.”
The first couple of spray tans, I didn't even realize it was a bad thing. That's how I talked to myself in the mirror. It's just "what women do" right? But after hearing women talk badly about themselves, every-single-day made me realize how terrible it actually was and it broke my heart each time. These women had so many amazing features and characteristics that women in my previous appointments wished they had. Again, about 8 out of 10 women I spray tanned had no concept of their own value. In short, I was baffled.
How could they not see how gorgeous their skin was? Or how cool their freckles were on their back? Or how their stretch marks told a heroic story of creating life from their own body and bringing it into the world, where it now walks and talks like a real human? Does she even realize how nice her booty is? This woman is gorgeous without makeup!
Those were my thoughts during each spray tan. But what were my thoughts going to do for the woman in front of me, rattling off a list of insecurities and unnecessary apologizing for her own body? I knew I couldn’t be silent. I had to speak up.
I don’t know what day it was or exactly what gave me the courage to speak up, but I decided that I couldn’t let women leave their spray tanning appointment believing a bunch of lies about themselves. When women walked into a spray tanning appointment with me, I asked them about their lives, and got them talking about their upcoming wedding, job, new date, etc. I would also point out the awesome qualities each woman had, knowing that chances were slim that they said these things to themselves, especially naked in front of a mirror.
My favorite moments were when someone would say, “Oh, wow. I never noticed that.” or “OMG. I do have nice muscle tone on my legs! Why haven’t I have seen that before?”
I think that’s when I really started wanting to help women stop being so negative about their own body, long before they reached their goal fitness level, weight or size.
That job in the tanning salon paid off, because helping women love their body right now, just the way it is, has been one of the biggest success of the Hot & Healthy Habits community. I can’t speak for the women in the tanning salon, but I can tell you what happened when our #HHHGirls started saying positive things about themselves—They started to see themselves as more capable. They got stronger. They got faster. They became happier. They made healthier choices. They laughed more. They challenged themselves more. They kicked ass reaching their goals. And at the end of the day, they’re living happier, fuller lives.
That’s why we preach self-acceptance and celebration to every single woman out there. Not just because it's a fun idea, but because we know now from research that it makes people happier and healthier.
Love and accept yourself right now. When you do, that pride and love you have for your body will fuel a desire to care for it. Start training your mind now and you will be unstoppable! You have an entire community at Hot & Healthy Habits cheering you on!
Amanda Adams, CPT
International fitness cover model, certified personal trainer, and co-founder of Hot & Healthy Habits. Without a whole lot of help, Amanda took a blog and her passion to make fitness and nutrition less confusing, and turned it into a thriving business with a social media following in the hundreds of thousands. Amanda is the Amy Poehler of the Hot & Healthy Habits team, and is a lover of margaritas, messy buns, and would rather use a GIF to explain herself!
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