Lately I have found myself wasting plenty of time on the internet (as we all do), scrolling through social media sites (Facebook, Pinterest, Google +) feeling really perplexed: when did “inspirational” fitness images and sayings become so freaking popular? You know the type, some ripped woman (almost always woman), standing, glistening in sweat, with a perfect ass, skin tight short shorts, curling tiny dum bells? Or the images of women, like this:
Insinuating that she is perfect and we all need to take this image, paste it to our refrigerator and shame ourselves even further for NOT looking like this.
Why is she faceless? And look at her? Rail thin, getting naked for the camera, right. I don’t mean to polarize and make this a post only about women and body image issues but since I can’t speak for men, I have to take an angle.
We see it everywhere, under every logo, on everyone’s Facebook page, trying to “inspire” ourselves or our clients into exercise and “healthy diet.” But what do these images really say? How do they translate into real life? Do we really honestly believe in our very dysfunctional minds, that “strong is the new skinny?” I certainly wish strong were the new skinny but the words now (just as the quote states) have become inter-changeable, equal now in our dialogue and just another way to sell you on what you should look like.
I suppose maybe if we are strong, fit and have a low body fat percentage but chances are, when we see women and men who are still by our standards overweight (or “fat”) and crazy strong, we still have a silent judgement about that person. And suddenly “strong is the new skinny” doesn’t apply to the overweight/strong woman in the gym: it only applies once they are “skinny” (because now they mean the same thing). It isn’t until we actually accept bodies in all shapes and sizes, will this newer adage be true. How about “strong and fit come in all shapes and sizes?” Not sexy, so it won’t ever catch.
I recently was looking through a website, with hundreds of photos of perfectly fit, beautifully airbrushed women and each picture was tied with a “reason” to be fit, or to exercise. I burst out laughing when I read one that said “To Be Less Self Conscience.” Really? I mean, sure we have all hoped to train, exercise and change our diets with the implicit false hope that someday we will be perfectly confident to roll around wearing a tiny swim suit, with nothing jiggling but how many have gotten there? And moreover, when we use this as a reason to exercise, we will ultimately fail. We never seem to exercise or change our diets in the hopes of lowering our risk of disease, it isn’t a sexy sale.
I am going to go out on a limb here and be perfectly honest, if you are self conscious, you probably won’t magically cure yourself with exercise or diet, this is an endemic issue. Why? Because media (like these ridiculous inspiring pictures/quotes) keeps the revolving door revolving.
Perfect doesn’t exist. We can stand in front of the mirror and always compare ourselves to the fantasy perpetrated by our own posts and clicks on Pinterest and Facebook. Gasp! Your will never look like that and if you do, you will still be unhappy with your body if your gold standard is a glistening, sexy Nike ad.
When our ICON fitness magazines don magazine covers of Ashton Kutcher or Victoria Secret Angels, we should KNOW how messed up our ideals of health are. The very people we are supposed to model after are HollyWood party boys/gilrs, drinking, smoking, sleeping around and living the “good life.” I don’t know about you, but their actions and lifestyle don’t speak to health and fitness but to an ideal that we as a society worship: false beauty and perfection created by our media obsession. You can’t smoke, drink, do drugs and sleep around and still live a healthy life but yet, somehow we have managed to make this the model for our New Years Resolutions. We still buy the magazines, read the fat burning secret articles, buy the products, try the miracle and fail, fail, fail…
The next time you find yourself in the Fitness section on any website, please take a moment to understand your feelings as you look at the images, read the articles and compare yourself to the model. How do you feel? Inspired? But by what and what is the outcome you are looking for? Have you looked at these images before? How effective do you think they are for you?
Frankly, I am so tired of seeing this crap on my newsfeed. We need a health revolution and it isn’t going to come from staring at swimsuit models or endlessly comparing ourselves to half naked, sweaty, perfect men/women at some fantasy gym. The sooner we identify the epidemic and refuse it’s entry into our ideals of happiness and health, the more satisfied we will feel after each exercise session, each healthy meal choice and small, positive change we instill in our daily lives.
Happy New Year Everyone!