Body-Positive Leadership

Every month, SHiNE Instructors from around the globe gather on Zoom for what we call, “Instructor Power Hour.” It’s an opportunity for us as leaders to practice what we preach: SHiNE is more than fitness, we are stronger together, and we value connection over perfection. One recent Instructor Power Hour truly lived up to its name, as we heard a powerful message from Michigan SHiNE Instructor, Marie Bonenfant. 

Like many women in our society, Marie struggled with disordered eating for many years of her life. She opened our conversation by sharing her personal story, along with a couple of startling statistics: Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and result to “dieting” to achieve their “ideal” body shape. Unfortunately, only 5% of women naturally possess the “ideal body type” often portrayed by American media. In fact, one study conducted by the University of North Carolina found disordered eating behaviors among three out of four American women between the ages of 25-45, cutting across all racial and ethnic groups. 

After openly sharing about her past, Marie brought us to the part of her story where SHiNE entered the picture. “SHiNE wasn’t telling me there was something wrong with my body,” she said, “but instead, offered a place to accommodate it. Even more than that, SHiNE gave me the opportunity to celebrate my body, to take up space, and to connect with my body in ways that my normal life didn’t offer.” While adjusting to this new mindset and shift in perspective, Marie and her family moved to a new community. She began dreaming about becoming a SHiNE Instructor, and sharing the gift of this mindset with others in her new home. “I was terrified, to be honest, but it kept calling to me to make the leap. I can honestly say that leap has changed my life!” 

As an Instructor, Marie keeps her new perspective at the forefront of everything she does. “Teaching SHiNE really opened me up to the concepts of body neutrality and body positivity. I’ve learned so much since! I eat food for fuel and fun. I exercise because I want to take care of my body and genuinely enjoy it. I watch the way I speak to myself, because what we say to ourselves matters so much.”

Marie rounded out her Power Hour presentation with a handy list to help guide her fellow SHiNE Instructors, or any leaders, toward a more body-positive atmosphere. We invite you to share the graphic below, and/or the link to this article, with anyone in a position to help lead our society toward a healthier future. (Hint: that’s all of us!)

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