Wold you be shocked?
Toning, tightening, lengthening, shaping, cinching, leaning, sculpting, chiseling etc. = marketing words. For the most part when you hear them, they ALL mean gaining muscle and losing fat. All of them. (in other cases, they are just lies, lol). We also prefer the term “lean muscle” to plain old “muscle”, but the term lean isn’t necessary. That’s a marketing thing too. (add “sexy” and bam! People love “sexy” lean muscle).
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 can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this list, or others like it. Everytime they appear in my dashboard or newsfeed, I get a little sad. I remember a time when I would have connected with this list: it wasn’t that long ago. But in the last few years I have put in a lot of time and effort to work on my headspace when it comes to body image, fitness, weight loss and more. This list reminds me of how disordered my relationship was with my body… and how many girls out there are still struggling.
The thing is, weight loss will bring you none of these things. Nor are any of these things actually important. Weight loss will not make you happy or make you love yourself. There’s more to it than that.
This image has been floating around (with an astonishing amount of ‘likes’, reblogs and shares. Mostly by teens). What that tells me is there are a lot of young girls out there that connect with it.
My first thoughts are about messages being internalized about weight loss, being thin and more. Fitspo, fitness marketing and weight loss marketing often conveys these very things as “by products” of weight loss. “You’ll be happy when you lose the weight, are a size 2, when your thighs don’t touch (another issue) or _______. “. While this list bothers me, it doesn’t, however, SURPRISE me: these are sentiments that I see often in the messages I receive on a daily basis. It’s also the reason I focus so heavily on body image, health, body love and self-esteem boosting.
What are your thoughts on this list? Does this concern you or do you relate?
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.
Workout DVDs like RUSHFIT and P90X give a great workout that’s convenient and, compared to the cost of personal trainers and boutique fitness classes, relatively affordable. So why aren’t more women doing them?
Probably because most of them are marketed towards men—even the ones that are technically “unisex.” Women’s workout DVDs tend to emphasize yoga, ballet and dance, and other light-weight stretching and cardio—all of which are great workouts, but involve far less intense resistance training than some of the more “masculine” workouts on the market.
So should women be afraid to test workouts beyond yoga and pilates? The trainers we spoke to said to said we should choose workouts based on goals, not gender.
Today’s body-positive post from 'Bangs & A Bun' is a must read.
Bangs is a longtime TFF of mine & fashion blogger turned bad ass runner. It’s been inspirational to read about her running journey from across the pond, and watching her progress over time has been a fittie treat. Along the way she inspired & put together a group of lovely ladies who tap into their inner super-hero’s and run to raise money for Refuge, a national charity for women. Check out their fund-raising page 'Bangs On The Run'.
In a powerful, but short, post, she sums up the message I try to promote here: fitness is worth it for it’s own sake & body love comes in all shapes & sizes. It’s true that every workout is different, and we might have different goals at different times. But working on improving your overall fitness, focusing on what your body can DO instead of what it looks like, and connecting with how exercise makes you feel instead of connecting with the superficial is the key to body happiness & true empowerment.
Read an excerpt below, click ‘read more’ for the full post on the Bangs & A Bun blog.
Muirean’s the shit. (and if you don’t believe me, you HAVE to see her rap. NSFW).
"If women are ever to get to grips with body image and acceptance, we must learn to think of it in terms of something other than weight. I never weigh myself, I couldn’t care less what I weigh. I’m a UK size 12, I’m 30 and I’m in the best shape of my life, fitter than probably a lot of women 10 years younger than me. A year and a half ago, I was a couch potato. What changed my attitude to fitness? Once I started getting into running and noticed the way it made me feel, I just wanted to chase that feeling forever. I preach it time and time again on this blog, but fitness for women should be all about the feeling.
I now think of my body completely differently. It’s a machine. I tell you what – run 13 miles and you soon won’t give a crap about the cellulite on your legs. You’ll just love your legs for the fact they carried you 13 miles. During my marathon, when my legs cursed me as I pushed them further than they’d ever gone, I praised their awesomeness, because my legs are awesome. And my glute muscles powered me up some spectacular hills, so I don’t care if my ass is a little flabby, I have a great ass! My arms can do 30 push ups at a time, my core muscles are strong – I am fit, I am healthy and I feel awesome. I love my body.”