It seems here in the last few years that being 'fit' is trendy. You can't scroll through any social media without seeing photos designed to be inspirational, and motivational. Fitspo, or Fitspiration as it's called is everywhere. It's staring at us from magazine covers as we check out at the grocery store, and screaming at us from our television programs. Photos of half naked women fall across our computer screens posed in dim washed light with sweat dripping off of their body. Motivational words splash across the photo letting us know that we can't give up, we need to train hard, remember to never quit, and that we can have or, be the person we want if we just try harder.
Are these posters really healthy? Are the ideas behind the words motivating? How is this trend affecting girls, and women everywhere?
Let's start with the idea that the people that are in these photos are healthy. They are muscular, and they seem fit, so that means they're healthy..right?
A photo of someone cannot accurately give you a picture about their health status.. You don't know how they achieved that physique. They may have starved themselves, and over-exercised for weeks in anticipation for the photo shoot. They are paid models. You're not looking at candid shots of people working out. They train for photo shoots. It's their job to look good, not to be a good athlete. Don't confuse the two. Another typical trick is for the models to dehydrate themselves before photo shoots. Dehydration makes muscles more pronounced.
Are the words used for the usual fitspo motivational?
This is a mixed answer. Like most inspiration porn it is motivational on the surface in a very shallow kind of way. You might feel fired up, and ready to go as you're pinning photos to your board on pinterest. How often does that motivation really carry out into results in real time? How often does that spark really ignite a passion in you that gets stuff done? If you're like most people, you spend way more time daydreaming of the perfect life that you have pinned on your board then you do taking action. The life you'll have someday when you just finish this, or when you have that.
Let's say that you want to be healthier. You know you could lose a few pounds, or could be in a little better shape. You are motivated, and ready. You get a good workout routine, and are eating clean. Is it realistic to believe you'll look like the photos of people on fitspo images?
No one can obtain that kind of physique, and sustain it over long periods of time without damaging their bodies. I'm not going to tread lightly around the idea that we're not meant to have huge bulging muscles on a lean willowesque frame. It's not natural to look that way. One has to push their body well beyond it's limits daily to achieve this look. That is considering you have the body to ever get there. Some people will never have that long, lean muscular look no matter how much they train. There's a difference between wanting to be strong, healthy and fit than wanting to be a certain shape and size. People can't say it's not about the shape, and size with fitspo,. because it most certainly is. Otherwise, the slogans wouldn't be talking about 'earning a body' or 'strong is the new skinny' or many other iamge related phrases. If being fit was the end goal then why is almost every single fitspo photo of a woman almost naked? Often posed in the most sexualized positions? You mean to tell me those photos are about being healthy? Please. I've seen Playboy covers have more clothing than many of these fitspo images.
Which brings me to my last question... What is this telling women, and girls?
The trend used to be about skinny. Now, the saying is 'strong is the new skinny' except all the models in the fitspo images are skinny. So, ladies it is no longer acceptable to be fat, or just skinny. You must be skinny and muscular. You must always be pushing yourself to transform your body to unattainable standards. You must be a great mother, a wonderful friend, a super coworker, nurture the world while figuring out how to maintain a physique that looks like Megan Fox. You can't be proud until you have reached this point. You haven't earned self respect until you've earned that body.
That is not what I want my daughter to learn. I want her to learn to be healthy for the sake of health. I want her to understand that the photos with all the women's head cut off showing only toned torsos, and even worse women in half covered panties are demoralizing. That is not a photo of a person. That is a photo of a body part. Taking the part off of that woman of that which is what makes her an individual with a face, and mind is disgusting. It is deducing her to a thing. Not a person. A thing. We use things, and I don't want my daughter to grow up to feel like it's okay, not wait... not just okay, but normal to be used. To be seen as an object for desire. Is being desired a bad thing? Absolutely not. Most of us like to know the opposite sex is attracted to us, but there is more to us than looks. You don't know anything about the women in the fitspo images other than the photo enhanced image you see. You don't know what kind of person they are, or what kinds of things they like. We're more than our looks. If you don't believe me think about a time you met someone who was strikingly attractive when you met them only to have that wear off as you got to know the person they are. We all have met that one person whose personality was so nasty it made them look less attractive, and conversely we all have had that experience of seeing someone who was not conventionally attractive being so after getting to know them, and their beautiful persona. We are more than our jean size.
I'm not pooing being healthy. I'm not saying skinny isn't healthy, or that being ripped can't be healthy either. What I am saying is that if you're advocating vomiting while working out, crying, or any other bodily reaction designed to let us know we're damaging our body then you need to rethink what you define as healthy. If you're promoting health you can do that with your clothes on, and your breasts covered. Health, and strength is not about sex. It's not about what our body looks like, but what it can do.
Being healthy is a multifaceted endeavor. It requires balance of mental, emotional and physical health. You can't be fully healthy without loving yourself, and no one that loves themselves would ever treat their body so poorly as most fitspo images suggest. Take care of yourself because you value your body. Not because you will when your goal is reached. Self love is unconditional, but motivating all on it's own.