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Halle Berry posted a provocative picture of herself on Instagram last month. In the photo, which shows her from the back, the Oscar winner does a headstand clad only in lace panties. While the image shows an abundance of flesh, it’s not only meant to be racy. Her yoga pose, sirsasana, revealed her strength, flexibility, and tone. She shared it with her 2.6 million followers in honor of what, since January, she’s dubbed #FitnessFriday. That’s right. Halle Berry is the latest celebrity to rebrand herself as a health guru, but her ongoing health challenges and personal turmoil distinguish her from other actresses who’ve made this transition.
“Each Friday I’ll be posting something about fitness that I hope will inspire you,” she said on January 12. “So many of you are asking how I have managed to stay in great shape over the years.”
It’s #FitnessFriday AGAIN! Today I’m proud to share my new #yoga pose. Thanks to all of you, I got super inspired and challenged myself to a head stand! I continue to challenge each of you to try new poses as well and share them with me by tagging #FitnessFridayHB. Today, let’s talk not just about yoga poses, but also about the meditative aspects of yoga. Many argue that some of the happiest people are those who spend time each day meditating. I can tell you that I’ve felt happier and more like my best self since I started. I’ve learned that meditation helps to balance your left brain and right brain, and as a result I feel more creative, I can absorb information faster and I experience better emotional health. #Meditation also helps me stay in touch with my “little me”, that little girl who keeps me curious and open to the newness of each day and every new experience that comes my way. Meditation keeps me connected to God, Mother Earth, a higher power or whatever you prefer, and reminds me that while we are all on a solo journey, we are never alone! So today, if you don’t already, try to find 20 minutes to meditate or pray. If you can make this ritual a part of your dailies, watch how your life will transform! Also today on my IG Stories and fitness highlight, I’m sharing my keto lunch. Enjoy ❤️
She went on to announce the upcoming launch of her site, Hallewood, which will feature health, style, fitness, and beauty content. And she attributed being in “the best shape“ of her life to personal trainer Peter Lee Thomas, who she says has taught her about fitness, nutrition, and self-defense. Just last week, Berry revealed her partnership with the New York Beautycon Festival’s B-Well experience focusing on health and wellness.
Given the glut of actresses who’ve entered the wellness, style, and beauty arena in some capacity — Goop, Cameron Diaz, Tracee Ellis Ross, Reese Witherspoon, and even soon-to-be member of the British royal family Meghan Markle — it’s tempting to dismiss Berry’s foray into the lifestyle market. But Berry is the rare celeb uniquely primed to dole out wellness and beauty tips. She was diagnosed with diabetes in young adulthood after reportedly falling into a coma. Now, at 51 years old, it certainly takes her a lot more effort to maintain her health than, say, a 26-year-old like Shailene Woodley (the Big Little Lies actress has recommended fads like oil pulling and urged women to sun their vaginas).
Moreover, when Berry praises her trainer for teaching her to defend herself and her two children, she’s not doing so to send a glib message about women’s empowerment. She’s a domestic violence survivor who says she lost hearing in one ear after a boyfriend assaulted her. For years, she’s supported the Jenesse Center, a domestic violence intervention program started by a group of black women in South Los Angeles. As recently as 2015, she told People magazine that she still suffers emotionally because she grew up witnessing her father batter her mother.
A victim of trauma living with a chronic health condition, Halle Berry isn’t selling sunshine, elitism, and perfection like Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson. She’s selling survival. Each time she posts a picture of herself boxing, sweating, or with her lean muscles on display, Berry draws attention to the fact that she didn’t fall apart in a society that devalues women of color, battered women, and anyone living with a chronic disease. Such individuals are expected to unravel by slowing killing themselves — turning to drugs, drink, overeating, undereating, or allowing the trauma they’ve accumulated to present as hypertension.
But the fact that Berry’s life has been so traumatic is the very reason she’s been dogged by criticism throughout her career. In recent years, she’s made more headlines for messy custody disputes, disgruntled exes, and beefs with paparazzi than for her film career. With three ex-husbands, she’s no different from Drew Barrymore or Jennifer Lopez, but Berry has faced misogynistic attacks implying that she’s unbalanced or “can’t keep a man” because her splits with some men have become tabloid fodder.
She’s also faced some bad press related to her diabetes diagnosis. Apparently, it’s unclear whether Berry has Type I or Type II diabetes. While the former requires insulin, the latter doesn’t necessarily and may be managed with diet and exercise. In some cases, it may be reversed. When a publication quoted Berry as saying she’d “cured” what was reportedly Type I diabetes, the diabetic community called her irresponsible. Later, doctors told ABC News that Berry had likely been misdiagnosed and had Type II diabetes all along. Berry’s camp didn’t comment further on the matter.
Marketing herself as a wellness and beauty guru means Berry will be exposed to a level of scrutiny that she could avoid if she simply stayed in the actress lane. Outlets like E! News have already published some of her nutrition tips and shared her Instagram photos. But she appears to be up for the challenge. In January, she declared “[I’m] coming for you 2018.”
This is a special #FitnessFriday! I believe good heath and wellness is what real beauty is all about. The beauty world is constantly evolving, building a deeper connection between health, wellness, and what we know as being beautiful. A holistic approach to beauty is key, which is why I’m partnering with @beautycon to give away two tickets to this year’s #BeautyconNYC Festival where they will launch their B-Well experience. It’s all about celebrating every dimension of health and wellness. Check out my IG Stories to enter the promotion! The winner will be randomly selected on April 14 and contacted directly. Good luck! Now, let’s talk about one of my favorite pieces of equipment. The MED BALL! The med ball is one of the most versatile and underrated pieces of equipment. It can help tone your core and increases your overall strength. It challenges balance, coordination and endurance as well as promotes explosive power. You can get a full body workout with just a ball. It truly is an entire "all in one gym”. And who doesn’t have fun with a ball? When I have fun while training I feel inspired to keep going! Today we share 5 exercises with the Med Ball. Our balls are 12 lbs, but you can use any weight your fitness level allows. I do 20 reps for 5 sets. I also made 2 new keto lunch dishes I absolutely love! Have fun today! ❤️
For people with messy personal lives, childhood trauma, disabilities, or chronic illnesses, getting wellness inspo from a decidedly flawed celebrity marks a refreshing change from all the stars selling an unattainable lifestyle. Sure, Berry’s fans will never look like her, even at 51, but the challenges she’s overcome make her so very human.