Why we shouldn’t call Amy Schumer’s nearly nude photo brave

Right now this picture of Amy Schumer is making the rounds on social media.


*photo credit: Annie Leibovitz/Pirelli

I’m not sure what you see when you look at this pic, but my immediate reaction was “Hell yeah! Go Amy!” Followed by, “Oh, she also loves coffee.”

I was curious to see what the rest of the world thought, so I scrolled through the comments. For the most part, she received love and praise…but something caught my attention…a lot of people were calling her brave.

I think this says something about the strange f’ed up way that we still view women’s bodies, because Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated models pose this way all the time and no one calls them brave. Most people don’t even bat an eye.

The reality is that we still find it unusual to see a perfectly normal sized woman pose unclothed – so much so that when we see a picture of someone comfortably displaying cellulite or a small stomach roll, the Internet goes up in arms. (Anyone remember the Cindy Crawford cellulite photo from last year?)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for women like Amy Schumer who push the envelope.

I breathe a sigh of relief when I see overwhelming support after these types of images are posted, because it means that I’m not the only person who is so over being told that there is only one type of body that is acceptable to be seen naked and p.s. the one I have isn’t it.

So while I certainly see this as progress, I want to be clear. The Internet can be a scary and unforgiving place where you will be judged, no matter how amazing your body is and for that, I think Amy is brave for posting this photo.

However, I don’t think she’s any more brave than a Victoria’s Secret model strutting down the runway on national TV and I look forward to a day where we’re exposed to enough diverse bodies that we no longer find it shocking to see mostly nude images of women with more than 12% bodyfat.

The reality is that it’s normal to have a little cellulite or visible rolls when you bend over – if you didn’t you wouldn’t have enough skin to lean backwards.

And because these things are normal, they shouldn’t be a source of shame and we shouldn’t be shocked when we see a photo of it – despite the message that we’ve been given by media and the fitness industry.

I do think things are getting better. I see the fitness industry and the media slowly coming around to this idea that health and fitness is more than a six-pack and our worth is more than how we look in a bikini and heels (for example, the support given to the barre studio owners who were fat shamed in Maryland).

I’ve seen a lot more media and messaging based around self-love, body diversity and health this year than I did when I started teaching fitness in 2004.

However, I also still see a bunch of crap telling me how to “lose 5 pounds in 7 days” and “burn that bra fat,” which tells me that while the fitness industry has made progress, we still have a lot of work to do.

And because of this, we need to be careful about calling women like Amy Schumer brave. It sends a message that it’s abnormal to be happy with the body you have unless you look like a fashion model or a bronzed statue.

You can’t hate yourself into better shape and even if you managed to, you wouldn’t be happy when you got there…in fact, you’d probably be miserable (and hungry).

If you want to be happy…or drink coffee in nothing but designer heels…you have the right to do so today. You don’t need to crash diet, kill yourself in the gym or lose 10 pounds to get there.

You just need to shift your mindset.

And with that in mind, Amy totally gets my love and an endless stream of virtual high fives for sharing her humor, her insanely long legs and yes, her not so fitness model stomach, but I’m not going to call her brave.

Badass? Yes. A role model? Sure, but brave, no.

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