The Body Issue is ON IT’S WAY. Excited? Keep your pants on.
The highly anticipated celebration of sports, athletics and naked bodies is causing a bit of a firestorm pre-release. Some argue that the images, though perhaps preferable to fashion cover models, are still unrealistic and unattainable. And they’re kinda right.
Aside from just pure genetic luck, these athletes are not doing your normal every day workout to get in shape. And training is their JOB, not just something they do as a hobby or to stay healthy. And yeah… they’re airbrushed. And cropped. And light up so that cellulite, scars, imperfections and veins won’t show (anyone with half a brain knows that those who play hard have the marks to show for it and yes, the fittest ladies in the world still have cellulite). The fact is that in person, these athletes don’t quite look the same. Still muscled. Still RIDICULOUSLY fit. But with imperfections, just like everyone else.
Is it a problem to admire their sick bodies? Nah. It’s like looking at a gorgeous building, a stunning sunset or a beautiful painting. To admire it is fine. And I have nothing against nudity or the naked form. We’re born that way: you can’t get any more organic than that.
Where the problem STARTS is with what we DO with the images. Do we compare ourselves? Do we aspire to THEIR bodies? Do we feel badly because we don’t quite look as perfect, lean, cut or god-like?
Admiring images is one thing. But to aspire to another person’s body is quite another. Especially when that person works MUCH harder than average, trains harder than average (harder than would EVER be recommended for a ‘normal’ person), has nutritional specialists and has spent years developing their muscles for optimal performance. And that’s even without the airbrushing.
I mean, we are talking ATHLETES here. Highly trained, nutritionally supervised, with the best coaches, trainers and hours a day of training. They do this for a living, and to celebrate their accomplishments is a good thing. But internalizing them, and feel badly about ourselves, is NOT.
Watching your consumption extends FAR beyond just what you eat. Examine your motivations, keep yourself in check, and watch for signs that ‘fitspo’ may not be what you need right now. If images like these stir feelings of insecurity, you may need a fitspo break. :)
If not, admire away!
Excerpt from Blisstree
Is it possible to look at photos of incredibly fit men and women without feeling bad about yourself? Absolutely! And I even think they can be a very healthy source of motivation.
A lot of how you receive the images depends on your own mindset about your body, but a lot of it also comes from the messaging that surrounds it in the media. I’m all for publishing beautiful photos of athletes and celebrating their physical accomplishments (including their looks). After all, it is a refreshing change from the models in nearly every other magazine spread. But I just hope that ESPN—and every other media outlet promoting Olympic athletes and physical fitness—will stay on the side of admiration, instead of unrealistic aspiration.