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.
Ask anyone about photoshopping, and chances are they’ll know the basics. They’ll also ’know’ that most magazines use it. And that the images they see are most likely altered. But ”knowing” all that doesn’t mean much when it’s not applied.
1. This lady’s got a great bod. Before retouching.
2. That bod isn’t perfect. Nothing is perfect.
3. The image you see on the left is a magazine’s attempt to ‘perfect’ her body by removing what they consider ‘flaws’. (note the quotations)
4. That ‘flawless’ image is for all intents and purposes a lie. (duh)
When it comes to fitness and body image, I’ve taken a pretty firm stance. All bodies are good bodies. You can’t hate yourself healthy. You can’t determine someone’s health by looking at them. Comparison is the thief of joy (and pointless). What your body can do is more important than what it looks like. And the needs of our bodies trump the needs of our egos, when it comes to keeping them healthy. (Ego needs are important too, but they cannot be solved with diet and exercise. That’s about attitude and changing how you think and feel about your body).
Along those lines, I don’t post ‘fitspo’ images here. I don’t believe it’s necessary or helpful to compare ourselves to others, and I also recognize that much like the images of very thin models we’re used to seeing in magazines, many fitness models are also photoshopped and represent unrealistic ideals to aspire to. And in my body positive space, there’s simply no room for any of that.
Don’t get me wrong: I think some of these women are bad ass fitness rockstars. I’m at a place now where I can admire their bodies without feeling negative about my own. But I’m acutely aware that even they don’t look like that in real life. I know that the kind of life I’d have to live to even come close to their bodies is NOT one I want. I train hard. I eat healthy. I like my body. But i have a life outside of the gym. And it includes cake, wine, pizza and sometimes bacon. I need my body in order to live my life, but my body doesn’t rule my life.
The shift from very thin, emaciated looking role models to the ‘fitspo’ girls seems like a slightly better alternative at first glance. But it’s INCREDIBLY important that we not swap one unhealthy ideal for another. (honestly, we shouldn’t have any ideals). The truth is that many fitness models employ incredibly unhealthy techniques in order to get as lean as they are in pics and in competition. They also don’t look like that all year round.