When I was seventeen and preparing to leave for university, my mother’s only brother saw fit to give me some advice.
“Just don’t be an idiot, kid,” he told me, “and don’t ever forget that boys and girls can never just be friends.”
I laughed and answered, “I’m not too worried. And I don’t really think all guys are like that.”
When I was eighteen and the third annual advent of the common cold was rolling through residence like a pestilent fog, a friend texted me asking if there was anything he could do to help.
I told him that if he could bring me up some vitamin water that would be great, if it wasn’t too much trouble.
That semester I learned that human skin cells replace themselves every three to five weeks. I hoped that in a month, maybe I’d stop feeling the echoes of his touch; maybe my new skin would feel cleaner.
It didn’t. But I stood by what I said. Not all guys are like that.
When I was nineteen and my roommate decided the only way to celebrate the end of midterms was to get wasted at a club, I humoured her.
Four drinks, countless leers and five hands up my skirt later, I informed her I was ready to leave.
“I get why you’re upset,” she told me on the walk home, “but you have to tolerate that sort of thing if you want to have any fun. And really, not all guys are like that.”
(Age nineteen also saw me propositioned for casual sex by no fewer than three different male friends, and while I still believe that guys and girls can indeed be just friends, I was beginning to see my uncle’s point.)
When I was twenty and a stranger that started chatting to me in my usual cafe asked if he could walk with me (since we were going the same way and all), I accepted.
Before we’d even made it three blocks he was pulling me into an alleyway and trying to put his hands up my shirt. “You were staring,” he laughed when I asked what the fuck he was doing (I wasn’t), “I’m just taking pity.”
But not all guys are like that.
I am twenty one and a few days ago a friend and I were walking down the street. A car drove by with the windows down, and a young man stuck his head out and whistled as they passed. I ignored it, carrying on with the conversation.
My friend did not. “Did you know those people?” He asked.
“Not at all,” I answered.
Later when we sat down to eat he got this thoughtful look on his face. When I asked what was wrong he said, “You know not all guys do that kind of thing, right? We’re not all like that.”
As if he were imparting some great profound truth I’d never realized before. My entire life has been turned around, because now I’ve been enlightened: not all guys are like that.
No. Not all guys are. But enough are. Enough that I am uncomfortable when a man sits next to me on the bus. Enough that I will cross to the other side of the street if I see a pack of guys coming my way. Enough that even fleeting eye contact with a male stranger makes my insides crawl with unease. Enough that I cannot feel safe alone in a room with some of my male friends, even ones I’ve known for years. Enough that when I go out past dark for chips or milk or toilet paper, I carry a knife, I wear a coat that obscures my figure, I mimic a man’s gait. Enough that three years later I keep the story of that day to myself, when the only thing that saved me from being raped was a right hook to the jaw and a threat to scream in a crowded dorm, because I know what the response will be.
I live my life with the everburning anxiety that someone is going to put their hands on me regardless of my feelings on the matter, and I’m not going to be able to stop them. I live with the knowledge that statistically one in three women have experienced a sexual assault, but even a number like that can’t be trusted when we are harassed into silence. I live with the learned instinct, the ingrained compulsion to keep my mouth shut to jeers and catcalls, to swallow my anger at lewd suggestions and crude gestures, to put up my walls against insults and threats. I live in an environment that necessitates armouring myself against it just to get through a day peacefully, and I now view that as normal. I have adapted to extreme circumstances and am told to treat it as baseline. I carry this fear close to my heart, rooted into my bones, and I do so to keep myself unharmed.
So you can tell me that not all guys are like that, and you’d even be right, but that isn’t the issue anymore. My problem is not that I’m unaware of the fact that some guys are perfectly civil, decent, kind—my problem is simply this:
In a world where this cynical overcaution is the only thing that ensures my safety, I’m no longer willing to take the risk.
So I’m looking through comments on instagram just to see what questions you guys have and what I can answer. Then I come across this full on conversation about my thigh gap.
“Why is your gap curvy? I want a straight gap.”
“No offense but your gap is weird, it has waves.”
PART 1: WHEN PHYSICAL BEAUTY DEFINES HAPPINESS…
MAN! Really guys? I never even noticed. I’m not in the slightest way offended or hurt (so don’t worry about me – I love my legs) but I am concerned about where our heads are in terms of what beauty means. From time to time, I like to remind you guys about loving your body for what it is every step of the way on your fitness journey, whether you’re looking lose weight, gain weight, or get stronger. A reminder that everything you work for isn’t just for vanity, that only lasts so long. I’m starting to think some people just don’t get it…or don’t want to get it. Look, I’m not gonna be blind because as a certified fitness instructor for over 7 years, I understand that looking good is a big part of fitness industry. I mean, that’s why most people start working out, but where does it stop – when can you finally accept that you’re beautiful and that I’m beautiful?
I know some girls are thinking that once they achieve those pancake flat abs, lose the muffintop, and sculpt the widest gap ever in the history of gaps, then they’ll be happy. Right? But who’s going to guarantee that? Do you think you can go on hating your body until the number between your toes has reached a certain “acceptable” benchmark ? Do you think that when this happens, OMG, all of a sudden life is going to be amazing and you’re going to be the happiest, most successful person ever?
Listen up. Happiness is not a destination. It is an enlightened state of BEING. Some people think that happiness means having lots of money, looking flawless, and being famous. It’s not true. Happiness is living your life with passion and purpose and being peaceful with yourself. To me, true success is being able to reach this state of selfless, honest, raw happiness that isn’t defined by “things.”
I want you to take a moment and disconnect the fact that a physical attribute can bring you true happiness. You’re worth more than the distance between your thighs.
PART 2: NEGATIVITY IN THE COMMUNITY
Now, second part since I’m feeling fiery. I’ve noticed that over the past month, the tone in the Blogilates community hasn’t been as bright, happy, and vibrant as normal. You guys overall, are still amazing, but there’s a slightly different tone. I don’t know what happened. Usually, you guys are really good about helping one another out and being super appreciative. But I’m starting to see negativity. I’m starting to see people feeling entitled and some with no sense of respect for one another.
When working on the 12 Week #Newbodymakeover meal plan with the registered dieticians of WeightTraining.com, I was really pressed for time between creating the graphics for the meal plan PDFs, shipping out journals, filming the Hunger Games workout and working on other secret projects for you. I’m not trying to get credit for how hard I work, but I do want you to understand that when I get comments saying “You promised the meal plan today and it’s not even out. You can’t keep promises,” it really hurts me. Yeah, talk about my body all you want, but when you start attacking my integrity for serving you guys – I, I just don’t even know what to say. A FREE meal plan that most people are charging hundreds of dollars for that’s probably not even written by a registered dietician who has to have a 4 year bachelor’s degree plus an extra 1-2 years of training – and you’re telling me that it’s “so annoying” to have to wait for the password and that you’re just going to leave the community for someone better now because I can’t keep my word.
Oh. My Gawd.
Is it because the community has grown immensely?
I’m not even going to get started on how people have begun to complain about how much work it is to give a twitter follow or like a fan page for a whole 7 days worth of 40 meals. Being called “gluttonous” for this is appalling. Oh yeah, and then saying that “Cassey’s changed. I’m going to go find another trainer who gives free workouts,” in regards to my exclusive video in the app – hmm ok – cuz to my knowledge I’m still releasing full length workouts every Monday on YouTube as I have over the past 3 years. Again, many trainers put such videos behind a paywall in which you need to pay anywhere from $9.99 to $59.99 or more a month just to access it.
I’m not asking for you to bow down and give me your first child guys. I just want you to know that I do these things for you when most people charge because you deserve it. But as a human being myself, I’m affected when my genuine hard work to serve you guys is not met with some sense of gratitude. Negativity encourages me to want to stop.
I didn’t want this to become a complain-fest, but I do want to say that if you don’t appreciate being a part of the Blogilates community, don’t bring your negativity here. I’m protecting the sweet, happy, and fun personality that most of us embody. I want to feel comfortable when I come here and I want our POPsters to feel welcome sharing personal stories. We are friends and supporters of one another – not anonymous internet voices bringing each other down.
Alrighty…for the most part, I think I’m preaching to the choir but I just wanted to let you guys know I don’t tolerate any sense of making other people feel bad in our community. So if you see this sort of activity either here, on facebook, the app etc., please feel free to email me directly.
I love you all. Stay happy, stay positive, and know that I think you’re really beautiful :)
PS – Hope no one felt like I was scolding them! I wasn’t. Was just being firm…you should see me try to debate in real life. I just start smiling awkwardly…oh and I want to address your understanding for the Fit Journal delayed shipments. There were a lot more POPsters that wanted to join in on the #newbodymakeover challenge than I thought so we had to reprint many more copies over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a struggle trying to find a printer who would take on the project so this caused a massive setback. I take full responsibility for any frustration this has caused you, but I want you to know that I’m always working my hardest to improve the way we can serve you guys. We’ve been shipping daily into the wee hours of the morning to make sure you get your stuff in time. So thank you for supporting Blogilates, thank you for emailing, thank you for checking in, and if anyone still has any issues with their order please email email@example.com and we will take care of you immediately! xoxo
I love you Cassey Ho.