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Portraits of a Brave Role Model
Bravery comes in many forms. Diving into rough seas to save a person from drowning, or rushing into a burning building while others are running out, are classic examples.
Speaking up against peer pressure requires bravery, as does standing up to a bully.
My lovely friend, Delaney Rodriguez, is a portrait of bravery for posting four photos of herself on Facebook. How could sharing some selfies be a courageous act, you ask?
Well, two of the pictures, head-to-heel front and side views, are from three years – and 30 fewer pounds – ago. She looks like a fitness model.
The other two pictures, same revealing angles, are recent. Many will at first see the added weight, and that is the side-by-side purpose, but after reading Delaney’s accompanying words, something else comes into clear focus: she looks like a role model.
Delaney is standing up to a bully known as body shaming.
Teenage girls, as well as women in their mid-20s like Delaney herself, and women of all ages beyond, will find inspiration in her story.
Perhaps most of all, boys and men need to be enlightened from Delaney’s powerful message below.
“So. This is definitely the most vulnerable I have ever been on the Internet, so please friends, be kind.
“To most people, the girl on the left looks healthy. That was me almost 3 years ago and it was the best shape I’ve been in. I was fit according to my weight, BMI, etc. I ate super healthy and took classes from cycling to TRX to barre method. I lifted, I would run, and do various cardio intervals.
“But while I looked great on the outside, it’s hard for me to look at those pictures because I know how sad that girl was. I worked out about 6 days a week for no less than about 2 hours, with one day a week working out for over 3 hours of nonstop cardio and resistance training. On top of that, if my diet veered off at all from my strict guidelines, I would completely shut down.
“I want to be clear, there are athletes who live by rules like that and that is totally okay. The problem was that I didn’t run my own life; my obsession with this idea of perfection ran my life. I got to a weight and a size that was supposed to make me happy and I was miserable. I became a shell of myself and I was constantly searching for outside things to make me happy and still I thought I was fat.
“And the photos on the right are what I took when I was on my Tahoe vacation a couple weeks ago. I weigh at least 30 pounds more than I did in the first pictures (I’ve never been a big fan of scales).
“I still workout about 6 days a week, but my workouts now last between 45 minutes and just over an hour. I still follow a healthy diet.
“But now I enjoy my life, I have my fun with my family and friends, I go out to dinner with my husband. I love fitness in so many different forms and I want to take care of my body, but I also know I need to take care of my mind and emotional well being too.
“Friends, remember that everyone is living their own story, we all have our own struggles. Be kind to each other!”
I asked Delaney, who confided she has struggled with anxiety, depression, and eating disorders since she was a teenager, why she decided to share her journey publicly.
“I’ve found that talking these things through with my friends and family helped me to realize that a lot of people feel this way,” she noted. “Nothing, not my weight or feelings of inadequacy, made me any less worthy of love and respect.”
“Hero” is an overworked word, but I believe Delaney is worthy of it.
Like she says, “Be kind to each other!”
Also, like she has learned to do, be kind to yourself.
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Woody Woodburn writes a weekly column for The Ventura County Star and can be contacted at WoodyWriter@gmail.com.
Check out my memoir WOODEN & ME: Life Lessons from My Two-Decade Friendship with the Legendary Coach and Humanitarian to Help “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece” and my essay collection “Strawberries in Wintertime: Essays on Life, Love, and Laughter” …
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