Women are conditioned to spend much of our time, energy, and money focusing on how we look with the main goal of being “approved of.”
I have an MBA with a focus on Corporate Finance, and a big part of my education was spent learning to evaluate investment opportunities. As I grew tired of “dieting” and was exploring a new method of reaching my goals from Team Fitbliss, I found it interesting to apply economic policies to the fads in the diet industry I was working to get away from.
Shifting to logic over emotion when it came to my body and goals, I began to make a shift in perspective.
How can we apply the concept of investment evaluation in our financial goals to our fitness goals?
The principles for choosing the best investment are usually taught in terms of money and financial decision making, but they can apply to other things too, such as our time, energy, emotions, physical presence, space of mind, etc.
What if, for just a second, we thought about our time and energy as resources and performed an analysis on the investments we are expected to make in our appearance as women? What is the return on investment (or in other words, the gain or loss we get from investing our time/energy) we receive as women for making investments in adhering to beauty standards?
A quick definition of return on investment (ROI) from Investopedia.com tells us: “ROI is a popular metric because of its versatility and simplicity. Essentially, ROI can be used as a rudimentary gauge of an investment’s profitability… If an investment’s ROI is net positive, it is probably worthwhile. But if other opportunities with higher ROIs are available, these signals can help investors eliminate or select the best options. Likewise, investors should avoid negative ROIs, which imply a net a loss.” (Read more: Return On Investment (ROI) Definition | Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/returnoninvestment.asp#ixzz5Yg5JVKFU)
Basically, if you take whatever you get out of an investment, and subtract whatever it cost you – you are left with the value your investment created for you.
When I did a personal assessment of the return on investment that I get for my own time and energy spent on being small and “skinny” here is what I found the returns for myself to be:
- Attention from men (often negative sexual objectification)
- Approval and less judgment from other women (friends) who are always on diets and working toward being skinny
- Feeling like I was “worthy” and “sufficient” (“superior” even) while I was able to maintain the “skinniness”
Meanwhile, here is what it cost me to fit this “approved of” ideal”
- The ability to focus or be my best in my career
- Time with family and friends because I was in the gym so often and avoiding foods that weren’t “clean”
- Sleep and any feelings of satisfaction when it came to my eating habits-I was tired and hungry almost all the time
- A calm, healthy state of mind-I had huge surges of anxiety, depression and disordered eating patterns when I “fell off” the routine
- The feeling that life was enjoyable and fun because I felt so isolated
When I did the ROI on this, it clearly appeared that the costs of this outweighed the returns, meaning I was getting a net loss for my investment.
When I asked why I was expected to spend my time on something that was a net loss for my quality of life, the conclusion I reached is that societal beauty standards, though prevalently adhered to, can often distract women from reaching their full potential as human beings. I wasn’t comfortable with this.
When I asked myself if other investment opportunities with higher ROIs were available, the answer was clear. So, I decided to stop investing my time and energy in being “skinny” and to reallocate my resources to things that have positive returns and create value in my life.
Here is my list of investments with higher ROIs than being “small and skinny:”
- My work and career
- My relationships with my family and friends
- My peace of mind and a sense of balance
- My long-term physical health
I’m investing in powerlifting and tracking macros because these things give me a positive return on both my mental health and physical health. I no longer have disordered eating patterns and I no longer care what others think about what my body looks like.
I invest time and energy into being fully present at work and with my family and friends. I get the returns of better work performance and better relationships from these investments. Overall, the investments I’m making today give me peace of mind and a sense of balance, and the value created for me by those things is infinitely greater than the value created by being “small.” The approval of society is often of low value and can truly be a distracting investment for women. We all deserve the option to assess that investment BEFORE making it.
Because of this experience, I’ll forever be asking myself if how I’m “investing” is creating the highest possible value for me, and I’ll forever be telling other women they are entitled to making conscious decisions about how they invest their time and energy, despite what society may tell us. We are more than just bodies and we are entitled to create value for ourselves, no matter what.
Leave a Comment