Today is about celebrating women from all over the globe for their achievements both past and present, as well as recognising the long journey ahead to working towards gender equality. The message behind International Women’s Day 2020 for Ryderwear is #EachforEqual, and we want to start the conversation of encouraging individuals to make small changes to their actions, behaviours and perceptions, to create larger, societal change.
To kick it off, we spoke to fitness queen Lauren Simpson about what ‘creating change’ looks like for her, how fitness empowers her, tackling societal expectations, and so much more.
RW: What do you think people can do to create change?
Lauren: Creating change in the world stems from our own daily actions. As women I think first we need to have the power within ourselves to believe we are equal. There is no change without self belief and then taking action. Secondly, break stereotypes! This is a big message I push across on my social media, girls should not be afraid to be in the weights room. Traditionally it’s been men lifting weight and girls on the treadmill. This is now starting to change and with what I do in the fitness industry, I strive to challenge the thoughts of girls not lifting due to the fear of looking big and bulky!
RW: What does a gender equal world look like to you?
Lauren: The goal should be for a world where men and women exist, who can be true to their nature and authentic self in an equal way. This means free from judgement, labels, and a gender hierarchy. I believe every person has both feminine and masculine energy about them, at differing levels, and we should all be able to express ourselves in a way that serves us to our full potential. Regardless of who you are — we all should have the same rights, as we all exist in the same world.
RW: How does fitness and training empower you?
Lauren: Fitness has made me strong — not just physically but mentally too. It’s shown me that my body is capable of so much. I set a lot of goals in the gym, and each time I get closer and closer to achieving them, those baby steps are all small milestones to be celebrated.
Additionally, fitness is SO MUCH MORE than fat loss. Yes body composition results are cool — but what is even better is the way you can really strengthen your mind and shape your life. People often get caught up in aesthetics and forget about overall quality of life, mind, body, and spirit that gets positively impacted when training.
RW: Early in your life you struggled with body image and health. Do you think this is due to society’s unrealistic expectations of what women should look like?
Lauren: YES. I do feel society does place a lot of unrealistic expectations on women to look a certain way. Whether it’s in magazines, TV, or social media, there’s always an idea of ‘perfection’ thrown at us. I think this is particularly harmful to younger girls who may look at those super airbrushed models and not feel valued or worthy. Many of my clients come to me having a very low self esteem. They wish they looked like someone else which is really sad. I do however think there has been a big shift in the media to be consciously aware now of being inclusive. You now see campaigns being run with women of all shapes and sizes, nationalities which is great because not one woman is the same.
RW: Your emergency surgery must have been an incredibly tough time, how are you working through the setbacks of it?
Lauren: My recent bowel surgery has definitely been a tough time and a big set back. My whole lifestyle has been turned upside down while I am now focusing on my recovery. From being a super active girl to now bed ridden has forced me to now be stronger than ever. Not just physically to recover, but emotionally I have to pull myself through this.
I definitely still have a little cry at times each day but I think that's only human. However I am trying really to focus on waking up each day with a positive outlook. The mind is the most powerful tool and I've set myself goals outside the gym and it's really made me see I am more than my body, I am more than just fitness.
I may not be able to be in the gym or do what I usually do each day but I know my come back will be stronger than the setback.
RW: How important is a positive outlook on body image for women’s empowerment?
Lauren: Nothing is more empowering than having self confidence. To look in the mirror and appreciate, accept and embrace the girl staring back at you. To be proud of who you are. We are all so unique in our own beautiful ways. The moment you stop caring what others are doing and achieving, the moment you stop trying to replicate those models you see all over magazines...and stop to truly appreciate all that you are - that's when you will find happiness within yourself.
My advice for body confidence is — do not wait to be body confident to show up each day. Show up each day regardless - if not, you’ll be waiting forever. Embrace who you are with all your unique, quirky, imperfect imperfections. Do your best every single day. Accept yourself and not let that number on the scale define your worth as a human. You are more than what you look like, more than what you weigh, more than your clothing size.
RW: What advice do you have for women who are experiencing these challenges in the world of fitness?
Lauren: One of my favourite sayings is “real queens fix each others crowns”. As women we are stronger together. The world of fitness is a competitive space and people can be nasty. So instead of tearing each other down — let’s empower one and other.
There is so much we can do to help each other. Compliment the random girl walking down the street, smile to the girl training next to you at the gym, offer your support to all women and network or surround yourself with like minded females. And it doesn’t end there, let's support female run businesses. Don’t just see other successful women as competition, use them to motivate and inspire you. When women support you, return the favour.
Most importantly, lets raise educated awareness and talk about topics women may be to vulnerable to share like periods, bloating, feelings of insecurities, cellulite, sex...all the things that are ‘girl code’.
On a final note: I also LOVE these words from Serena Williams — “the success of every woman should be the inspiration to another”.
We would like to thank Lauren for taking the time out to chat with us about some incredibly important topics. You can follow Lauren’s journey and keep motivated through her Instagram here.
Ryderwear will be running an International Women’s Day campaign throughout the next couple of weeks, where we sit down and chat to some of our female athletes about breaking down stereotypes, overcoming challenges, and empowerment through fitness. Stay tuned for more Q&A’s!