The recent attention to the sexualization of women in CrossFit (and sport in general) is important, but I think it is missing the point. Current articles attribute the success of people like Christmas Abbott to their good looks, and blame women who promote their bodies for perpetuating inequality, stating that they are harming themselves and society. Writing suggests men also play a role in the process, stating we all have a responsibility in breaking the cycle.
True: inequality affects and is preserved by humankind, however, people don’t wait in line for hours to meet the gorgeous Christmas Abbott just because she is hot as hell (OK – not everyone in that line is standing there for that reason) – there is more to it than that, and I admonish you to dig deeper. Although Christmas’ beauty and bodacious booty are definitely assets (and she exploits them fully), this is only one aspect of the three-dimensional being she showcases to the world. People do not merely count down for days when Christmas is coming because they are in love with her body, but rather – they do it because she also has a strong mind and a powerful, magnetic spirit. As people we are the sum of three parts – mind, body, and spirit, and we desire to be loved and affirmed as such. Christmas should not be condemned for brandishing her body because she is also constantly unveiling the procurements of her mind, and revealing the strength of her spirit.
If we look further than face-value of this issue and climb into its core we can all learn that true equality equity comes from recognizing we are three-part beings, taking care of and nurturing each aspect of ourselves, and finding people who love and affirm us for our entire nature: mind, body, and spirit. The greatest pains of our world are sustained when we become off-balance, and this is done most-easily when we allow our physicality to control us. It is absolutely critical that we not neglect this truth.
A three part series written by Patrick McCarty on Breaking Muscle was recently released, and was incredibly well written. The first part exposed the inequality that pervades CrossFit, “It takes more for women to have an equal playing field with men. The ‘more’ being a hypersexualized portrayal of self.”[i]
This all began as a response to the controversial article posted by CrossFit in which Elizabeth Akinwale was quoted saying:
“I share sponsors with some women who have never done anything athletically. They train … and they post a lot of videos of their cleavage and stuff, and the camera angle going up toward their butt, but they are not successful athletes…
[S]o, while I understand it, it’s sort of frustrating. … Are there any men (in CrossFit) who are sponsored who are just basically hot? I can’t think of any.”[ii]
After this article was posted and the CrossFit Games shared a portion of the quote on their social media pages, it blew up with comments of women and men agreeing or disagreeing with the taken-out-of-context quotation. Women, such as Christmas Abbott, were called out for promoting their bodies on their pages and receiving greater recognition (and sponsorship) than athletes who are considered more talented, but also more reserved. McCarty’s part one states, “Christmas Abbott, by all accounts a marginal athlete in the CrossFit realm, has 290k followers.”
The second part of McCarty’s piece spoke of women who “fall prey” to the system and self-objectify, and cited research that showed this is unhealthy for women and for society.[iii]
The third and final portion dug further into the issue, and again mentioned our girl, Christmas:
“Said another way, those athletes who want to build a brand can escalate their brand more swiftly by adding a booty shot or two and becoming the “sexy/hot/whatever” CrossFitter. Those who simply post their lifts, their educational spin, and practical information tend to be overlooked by social media. To put it bluntly, the fandom within the sport of CrossFit is not commensurate with the level of athleticism. You only need to look at the around-the-block line for an autograph with Christmas Abbott at the 2014 CrossFit games to know that.”
However, McCarty’s third piece also did a beautiful thing that many articles fail to do – it offered a solution. He suggested both men and women have roles in halting a system that perpetuates inequality: women should stop self-objectifying, men must discontinue from commenting on posts in ways that objectify women, and that both men and women need to unfollow and refrain from liking posts and people who objectify women.[iv]
Although it is beyond fantastic and imperative that this article is shining light on the sexualization and inequality that exists for women, I think it is missing the real point, and I have another explanation of why – when Christmas is around – you will find an around-the-block line waiting to meet her.
I believe in these two core truths:
- We all have three aspects to our being: mind, body, and spirit.
- We all desire to be loved and appreciated for all three aspects of our being: mind, body, and spirit.
The problem lies not in the fact that women are promoting their bodies on social media. The crisis comes when anyone neglects the other aspects of their being, and allows their physicality and animalistic inclinations to dominate, neglecting their spirit and mind and/or the spirits and minds of those around them.
Some women are promoting themselves showcasing only their bodies. That will leave these women feeling very empty, regardless of how many “likes” their booty pic gets or how many followers they have on Instagram. These are the women I believe the research article cited in part two and three refers to – these are the women who self-objectify with only temporary satisfaction.[v]
Others promote themselves and receive affection for all aspects of their being: mind, body, and spirit. THIS is what Christmas Abbott does. Christmas’ mind is sharp: she is constantly learning and challenging herself to write books, develop seminars, and grow a business. Christmas’ spirit is fierce and unwavering, and yet she still shows us her fragile nature. And of course we all know, Christmas’ body is gorgeous.
Naturally, some of Christmas’ fans will only admire her for her body, and not the rest of her being, but I believe the flaw here lies with them – and not her. These people have not taken enough time to nurture the other aspects of their being – their mind and spirit. They have given too much power to their natural animalistic inclinations. These people probably also have profound feelings of dissatisfaction in their lives.
So, what’s the real solution?
We all need to learn to see ourselves as a beautiful unity of three dimensions: mind, body, and spirit. We all need to seek growth in, and pay attention to, each aspect of our being equally. To neglect to do so is to sell ourselves short, and perpetuate the flaws in our society.
If we were purely physical beings, we would be the same as animals. We are not. We have the ability to think at higher levels, and if we allow those animalistic tendencies to dominate, things get even uglier than sexualization and inequality for women in sport. This is what leads to pornography addictions, sex-trafficking, rape, and sexual assault. When we see ourselves as purely physical beings, or see a woman or man in front of us as only a physical entity (and neglect to see her or his mind and spirit), we invite catastrophe into our own lives and society as a whole. We need to see ourselves – and every person in front of us – as a three part being. If you find yourself objectifying others, give yourself some kind of slap (figurative or literal) to snap out of it and see them as beings with a beautiful minds and spirits.
I believe this is how wonderful marriages stay wonderful – two people who are in love with each other for mind, body, and spirit. I believe this is why Christmas has so many followers – because people (knowingly and unknowingly) are attracted to her mind and her spirit in addition to her body.
We can’t get rid of sexualization, nor do I think we should! If Christmas wants to pose naked on some rocks, good for her! I only say, “good for her” because she is also showing us her mind and making her spirit known.
The practical solution:
- Unfollow accounts that promote merely the physical.
- Work to develop the three aspects of your being: mind, body, and spirit.
- If you are attracted to someone’s physical being, that is natural – take the time to get to know her or his mind and spirit.
- Make your social media accounts showcase your true three-aspect self.
- Learn to love the skin you are in (it’s possible, trust me) while working to improve your health and physical being, and share this journey in whatever way speaks from your heart.
- Learn more and build your mind into a magnificent machine, sharing your ideas with the world.
- Express your spirit – that part of your nature that makes you unique and sets you apart from everyone else; that part of you that is awakened during the activities that make you feel whole and grounded.
- Share this article.
A final point: I have always believed in taking care of our physical selves (our health) first and foremost. If we do not have our health, we have nothing. Our bodies house our minds and our spirits. If our body is not healthy we are unable to properly utilize the power our minds, or to live in the way that is in tune with our spirit. When we take care of our physical self, as a side effect, our bodies improve aesthetically. It is a natural trait to be attracted to someone who has a good body, because we believe at a subconscious level that we are selecting a good mate in good health. This is also why we all crave being admired physically. We should not ignore this natural tendency, but we should make our health the priority. In doing so you will feel and look better, live a healthier life, and have the energy to devote to developing your mind and spirit, just like Christmas does.
Do one thing this week to improve your body. Your mind and spirit will thank you.
While the sexualization of women in CrossFit and in sport is an enormous problem that plagues society and leaves women feeling dissatisfied with themselves, the crisis is actually much deeper than that. The greatest sickness society suffers from is one of neglect: we fail to nurture ourselves and others for our three-part unity of mind, body, and spirit. Society will only be transformed when we begin to see others and ourselves as more than physical objects. Our world will only be changed when we take can: take care of our own mind, body, and spirit; recognize these three animate parts in the individuals before us (in person and in social media); represent ourselves as three-part beings (in person and in social media); find love and acceptance for ourselves: mind, body, and spirit (in person and in social media). Christmas has mastered projecting and loving herself – mind, body, and spirit – and instead of being condemned (it’s funny how many things she has in common with the holiday), she should be celebrated.
The three-part teaching is not my own. Many First Nations tribes believe we exist as mind, body, and spirit, and I learned this in Native Studies and in teaching in Canoe Lake Cree First Nation. This is my own application of the teaching.
Click here to listen to the podcast we recently recorded with Christmas. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast, Projekt Possible on iTunes.
Click here for the real story of Christmas Abbott: http://www.christmasabbott.com/bio/
Wish there was a program that helped you grow in every area of your life? There is! Projekt Possible: An 8-Week Blueprint for Building your Biggest Life, Cultivating your Confidence, and Smashing your Goals: http://idealisticisabel.com