Molly Galbraith likes to talk about how her parents taught her to stand up for a good cause even when doing so would draw fire.
But she didn’t anticipate that when she had her picture snapped on a beach on Costa Rica and posted it to Facebook on New Year’s Day that the Internet world would crackle with surprise at the accompanying words she posted.
The post started off like this: “This is my body. This is not a before picture. This is not an after picture. This just happens to be what my body looks like on a random Tuesday in December of 2015 — it’s a life picture. This is a body that loves protein and vegetables and queso and ice cream.”
Galbraith, 31, is bemused by the worldwide attention she has received for the post.
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Her proclamation of being happy in her own skin has drawn attention from, among others, ABC News, People magazine, Huffington Post and Bustle.com, and the gossip-heavy Daily Mail, which used its typically flowery language in the headline about Galbraith: “Former bodybuilder proudly shows off her physique in a bikini snap to hit back at cruel comments about her ‘weak, fat’ body — while promoting a message of self-acceptance.”
She’s grateful for the publicity accruing to her online training and nutrition business, Girls Gone Strong but thinks the publicity is like something off the satirical news website The Onion: A woman is OK with her body, and that’s news? she asks.
“What kind of world are we living in when a woman saying, ‘I don’t want to change my body,’ becomes national news?” Galbraith wondered.
She knows there are bigger issues. She is the well-educated daughter of serious parents — her father was the late Gatewood Galbraith, a Kentucky political figure who was one of the state’s leading political provocateurs for decades; her mother, Susan Sears, is an attorney and advocate for women’s causes.
But she thinks there is also room for a debate on a society that too often evaluates women on thinness and food deprivation. “No one wants to spend the rest of their life carrying around a food scale.”
“It’s just amazing how much joy we deprive ourselves of because we think it’s not OK to eat a certain food,” Molly Galbraith said.
She doesn’t necessarily want women to be complacent about their bodies. She is quite strong, and likes the feelings that good, strength-building exercise brings. She wants women to accept their bodies, to know that rather than viewing being a size 6 as the key to personal bliss, it’s “falling in love with themselves and their body.”
The support Galbraith has received online and from comments based on her original Facebook note gives Galbraith hope for other women: “If they’re giving that to me, they’re probably giving it to themselves tenfold.”
So many women fail to appreciate themselves as they are, Galbraith said, instead clinging to dreams of a new body after a diet or losing a final 10 pounds. They never appreciate their beauty, she said, because they only see the obstacles rather than the body that serves them every day.
“The trouble isn’t in valuing beauty but in defining beauty in a context so we can make it possible,” Galbraith said.
That means acknowledging and moving on from imperfections. Galbraith acknowledges she has cellulite, the cottage-cheese dimpling of skin in some areas of the body. To this she says: Big deal. “It doesn’t mean anything about my body or me,” Galbraith said.
Even supermodel Chrissy Teigen in 2015 posted photos of the stretch marks on her upper legs, noting that “we forgot what real people look like.”
Galbraith has weighed 185 pounds. She has weighed 152 pounds. She had thyroid problems and polycystic ovarian syndrome, both of which can affect weight. She has done heavy lifting and intense body sculpting.
Now, at 5-foot-11, Galbraith weighs 165 to 170 pounds. Face framed in beachy waves and dressed in fashionable workout gear, she looks healthy and vigorous. She eats well and emphasizes the importance of adequate sleep.
Galbraith grew up in Lexington and attended Community Montessori School, Southern Elementary and Middle schools, and Tates Creek High School. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky in finance and marketing, and has an MBA.
Her business — Girlsgonestrong.com — offers products including various levels of strength training packages and an online coaching program. The website also offers some free content.
Galbraith has recruited exercise experts for her company to challenge the multibillion-dollar diet and fitness companies, she said.
“We’re all about body autonomy for women,” Galbraith said. “We want them to look and feel exactly how they want to look and feel.”
The Facebook post
Molly Galbraith’s Jan. 1 Facebook post, which has since gone viral:
“This is my body.
This not a before picture.
This is not an after picture.
This just happens to be what my body looks like on a random Tuesday in December of 2015 — it’s a LIFE picture.
This is a body that loves protein and vegetables and queso and ice cream.
This is a body that loves bent presses and pull-ups and deadlifts and sleep.
This is a body that has been abused with fast food and late nights and stress.
This is a body that has been pushed to the brink of leanness in figure competitions and maximum strength in powerlifting meets.
This is a body that begged for mercy when it was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and PCOS.
This is a body that has been called:
▪ too fat
▪ too thin
▪ too masculine
▪ too strong
▪ too weak
▪ too big
▪ too skinny
... all within the same week.
This body has been publicly evaluated, judged and criticized, and those judgments have been used to determine my level of skill as a coach and a trainer, and my worth as a person, both positively and negatively.
Some people say they would “kill to have this body.”
Others say they would “kill themselves if they had this body.”
(Yes, unfortunately that’s actually a thing humans say to one another.)
This is a body that I spent too much time, energy and mental space wishing would look differently.
Today this is a body that is loved, adored and cherished by the only person whose opinion matters — ME.
This is the first year in as long as I can remember that I have made NO resolutions to change the way my body looks.
This is a kind of freedom I didn’t think I’d ever experience, and it feels really, really good.”