I think Neghar Fonooni put it best:
Let’s talk about these “inspirational” photos that have gone viral on the web lately. You know, the photos of crazy ripped women with not an ounce of body fat, scantily clad displaying messages about “mindset” and “hard work.” Have we taken “strong is the new skinny” too far? Are we simply creating a new unrealistic body image for women to aspire to? Are we furthering the rampant dysmorphia or truly encouraging strength for women?
Lofty goals are awesome. We should be inspired by the spectacular, the sensational—even the unrealistic.
But, in addition to what Neghar pointed out—that these photos aren’t any more realistic or positive than emaciated fashion models—I have two major grievances with so-called “fitspiration” photos:
1) There is no universal fit body type.
This is one of those double standards that drives me nuts. People seem perfectly capable of accepting that fit bodies come in many shapes and sizes—when it comes to men. Endurance athletes tend to be slighter and leaner. Power athletes are beefy and carry more body fat. Gymnasts are short and shredded. Cool. But women? Different story.
Women have a ridiculously narrow set of characteristics to fit into in order to look athletic by mainstream standards. Last year a female client of mine (whom I no longer work with) made a disparaging remark about one of my favorite colleagues, implying that my colleague didn’t look fit. The colleague in question is by far one of the toughest athletes and trainers I know. My client—lazy and skinny fat (why mince words?)—took a look at my friend and made an assumption because my friend didn’t fit into her idea of a fit woman.
Carved abs and capped deltoids don’t make you strong. Skinny doesn’t make you healthy. Looks deceive. Period.
I would love to see a “fitspiration” image of an athlete like Amy Wattles crushing a strongman event.
Wait a sec—technology, do my bidding! BOOM:
2) A photo of a model or athlete should not have the power to tell us what to look like.
Actually, that goes for all models, celebrities, and all fragments of media ever produced by humanity from cave drawings and Botticelli to Playboy and Baywatch.
Be fit because you deserve health. Because you deserve to feel capable and attractive. Be sexy because you deserve a positive body image.
The value you derive from the way your body looks and performs must come from within or it’s counterfeit.
A quick disclaimer: I made these parody images as satire. Physique athletes who achieve results like these are incredibly disciplined, and they have my utmost respect. I’m just trying to draw a parallel between these images and other depictions of an impossible standard.
At the end of the day, I judge a “fitspiration” image the same way I judge an exercise or lifting program: what does it produce?
Does it make someone feel excited about what he or she can accomplish through training and good nutrition?
Does it truly inspire people to change their lifestyle?
Or is it just mainstream media up to its dirty old tricks again, telling people (mostly women) that they’re still not good enough?
Thoughts? Opinions? Am I right on, or totally over-analyzing? Leave a comment.
I really enjoyed this article — so I am reblogging it in its entirety. I didn’t feel that I could say anything better than Marshall, so I didn’t. Do answer his questions–I would LOVE to know what you think. I will do a post later on what I think and who I find motivational. 😀
Blessings …. S