This image didn’t always piss me off. And others like it didn’t always piss me off. I was used to seeing them, hearing the rhetoric, and was deeply subscribed to the belief that it was normal & appropriate to motivate women this way.
In an industry where it’s often hard to get women to hop on the resistance train, encouraging them with reminders that it’ll turn them into ridiculously hot amazon women seems to work. Women respond to it and if it gets them squatting, the ends justify the means, right? (No. Not right, but we’ll get to that).
Clearly, I don’t feel the same way now. Body love epiphanies and tipping points will do that to you. But if you’re still where I was, and think these images are harmless, here’s some reasons you might want to rethink them.
First, let’s explore “The Making Of A Pro-Squat Fitspo Image For Women”.
A. Find pictures of bootylicious booties, usually headless. If said images aren’t already headless, cut the heads off. Zoom in on booty.
B. Place the words “squat” or “deadlift” all over them. If possible, accompany by a statement (implied or explicit) that those two exercises will make your booty RIDIC HOT, just like the headless girls in the image. Make said booty as sexually explicit as possible by showcasing it in underwear or booty shorts.
C. To really drive the point home, give the comparison treatment: showcase another smaller, flatter booty, (also headless) and dub said booty the ‘BAD non-squatty, non-deadlifty” booty Just another visual, to make sure you know the difference between a good butt and a bad butt.
D. If true fear or shame is what you’re after, apply a hefty dose of “men prefer women who squat, because of course” and duh, you want a hot booty to impress the fellas. The more implications that your ability to be attractive to men depends on squats, the better.
I thought this TED Talk was insightful, refreshing and incredibly candid. Cameron is eloquent, provides shockingly ‘real’ talk about the illusion of beauty, modelling, and self-esteem. She also shares some of her own images, both real life and covers, to show how much goes in to the photographs we see everyday.
Excerpt from TED blog.
“I always just say I was scouted, but that means nothing,” Russell says in her talk. “The real way I became a model is that I won a genetic lottery, and I am a recipient of a legacy. For the past few centuries, we have defined beauty not just as health and youth and symmetry that we’re biologically programmed to admire, but also as tall, slender figures with femininity and white skin. This is a legacy that was built for me, and that I’ve been cashing in on.”
In this talk, Russell delivers two powerful messages: First, that young girls who dream of being a model should think of it like they would winning Powerball—something to shoot for, but “not a career path.” Second, Russell takes on the tendency to think that life would be better and easier if we were more beautiful. Russell’s response: “If you ever think, ‘If I had thinner thighs and shinier hair, wouldn’t I be happier,” you just need to meet a group of models. They have the thinnest thighs and the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes and they are the most physically insecure women, probably, on the planet.”
But Russell has another point she wants to convey too. While many bemoan the use of Photoshop for making models look thinner and imperfection-free, Russell says that this is just the tip of the iceberg. To hear more about how the image of sex appeal is carefully constructed from the ground up, watch her bold talk. And after the jump, pay attention as Russell shares the reality behind some of her sexy images.
This is the very first photo that Cameron Russell ever took as a model, shot for the magazine Allure in 2003, when she had just turned 16. Yes, she may look like the beacon of femininity. But she hadn’t so much as gotten her period yet. To hammer the point home of just how young she was at the time, she’s contrasted the image with a bathing-suit shot of her with her grandma, taken just a months before.
Russell looks like a siren in this red bikini. Despite looking well into her 20s in the image, she was just a teenager when the photo was taken. For argument’s sake, here’s a photo of her on the beach with a friend taken the same day. Her look: polka-dotted innocence.
Another illustration of how young Russell was as she embarked on her early modeling career—in this shot, she looks beautifully brooding in a shot for French Vogue. However, she was giggly at a slumber party just days before.
I’ve been seeing more and more of these ads on my dashboard, and I think it’s despicable. Using thinspo marketing (and taking advantage of people who are suffering or on the verge of suffering from eating disorders) is shameful, wrong and morally reprehensible.
If you see an image similar to the one above with the link “need to lose weight” (or something similar), please remove it, delete it, unfollow, and whatever you do, don’t click.
Excerpt via Blisstree
Fat Loss Factor isn’t all that different from other online diet plans: It’s unclear how it works until you buy, their advertising all seems shady, and it’s incredibly difficult to find legit reviews about their weight loss methods. But they’re distinguishing themselves by targeting a demographic that others don’t dare: Anorexic teens, via the pro ana community on Tumblr.
The strategy sounds almost too horrific to be true, but the posts–which have been put up under several stock tumblr accounts–are undeniably meant to provoke the anorexic teen girls and women who belong to pro ana communities. In the example below (which links out to FatLossFactor.com), the post is not only visually triggering; it’s actually tagged with popular terms used by the pro ana community on tumblr, including “pro ana,” “thinspo,” “thinspiration,” and “eating disorder.”
WARNING: Content may be triggering for those with eating disorders or body image problems. Read more: http://www.blisstree.com/2013/01/08/food/fat-loss-factor-pro-ana-ads/#ixzz2HafDVy9c
Just a little clarification, in case fitness marketing has SKEWED you over. :)
Some things you should know about ‘fitness’.
1. Fitness is about what your body can DO. Ability. Weight loss does not make you fitter.
2. Getting “fitter” is the process of challenging yourself over time with the end result of being able to do MORE. Being really fit does not make you a better person than anyone else. You’re just someone who can do a little more. That’s all.
3. Lacking physical fitness or losing fitness, usually means you’re limited in terms of what you can DO. For average people, it’s just about the basics: being able to walk around, shop, go to work, play with your kids, enjoy life, escape zombies etc. For those who were formerly “fit” or very physically active, losing their ‘fitness’ may mean noticeable drops in performance: what was once easy is hard or impossible.
The VAST majority of body shaming is subtle and it’s often unintended.
For example, a popular way to encourage women to lift weights is using a photo comparison: a leanish, fit woman (like a fitness model) compared to a female body builder or weight lifter. The intention is to dispell the myth that strength training will make you bulky and encourage women to hit the weights. Bulky: bad. Lean: good. It’s pretty clear from the image & tone which is more “desirable”.
Is bulk a real fear that needs addressing? Sure. But if you were a female body builder, working her ass off and loving her muscles, how do you think that image would make you feel?
The intention is admirable and the message is true: it’s very hard for the average woman to put on that kind of size (and involves much more than just lifting heavier. These women eat, sleep & breathe their routine, it’s not an accident). But there’s no need to put down ladies who prefer a little more muscle than average. They work hard, train hard, and although they may not represent the ideal, they are still REAL.
(And… the fitness model body isn’t exactly a realistic goal either. You can get stronger, lose body fat and change the shape of your body with strength training. But chances are, you won’t look like her either. You’ll look like YOU. With your body, even if it changes. But you’ll feel bad ass).
Something to keep in mind as you promote strength training benefits! There’s no need to compare women in order to get the message across. :)