So, so sad. But at least it’s blatant and obvious. Not all thinspiration comes in as clear of forms.
Found the excerpt below compelling and wanted to expand on one point: the fact that many instructors (and trainers) often use body shaming language as motivation during class as motivation for their students.
“Bye bye saddlebags!”
“No more muffin top!”
“This will target those gross, flabby arms”
“You can FEEL the fat melting away”
Granted, many women sign up for fitness classes with EXACTLY those intentions. But I can’t help but feel that there have to be better ways to motivate than to point out flaws that may (or may not) be an issue. What if someone’s just fine with the way their arms look? What if they didn’t think about saddlebags until you brought it up?
Saying ‘target your glutes’ & ‘make you stronger’ are both good. So’s ‘get our guns ready for action’ and ‘boost our heart rates’ and ‘YOU GOT THIS’. There are LOTS of ways to stay motivating, get results and keep your participants sweating hard… without body shaming language.
The takeaway: while it may seem that your students are there to target certain body parts, what they really want is to feel better about themselves. And pointing out flaws may not be the best way to motivate them to reach the next level.
Excerpt via Intent Blog
Of all the ways to motivate me to do anything, calling me fat isn’t one of them. Showing me photos of underweight underwear models is more likely to make me hungry than inspire me to hit the gym. And while thousands of people over the years have sought my advice on how to become more fit, lose the baby weight, or sculpt a certain body part as if it were a fashion accessory (this is one part of my job, and I happily oblige), I have told people they should lose weight precisely this many times in my career: never.
Why would I bother when there are so many other voices telling women and men that they need to whittle more of their bodies away in order to feel worthy of living inside them? I wouldn’t, and it’s a shame.
But people find inspiration in different places, and, while disconcerting, thinspiration is a thing—a style of motivation that ranges from cheeky mantras like “Sweat is your fat crying,” to downright dangerous behaviors in support of eating disorders.
I remember attending a fitness class taught by a popular teacher a few years ago at a swanky Boston health club. It was a strong class, and I liked the teacher’s sense of humor. But when she encouraged us to eek out one more rep of an upper body exercise to incinerate the “disgusting flab on the backs of our arms,” it didn’t make me work harder. I wilted. I worried about all the ears hearing those words of disgust about their hardworking bodies in the room (some of whom were also my yoga students), and I wondered how they would be internalized.
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.
Please. Take 5 minutes to read, nod & fist pump along with this post. WORTH EVERY SECOND.
Bam. Ashley Judd, you are my hero.
It’s Body Bash Friday, celebrating bodies everywhere & giving you tips on how to love yours a little better.
In the fitness community, there’s a dangerous trend emphasizing looks as a determinant of health. The words ‘healthy’, ‘slim’, ‘thin’ & ‘happy’ are often linked together, as though they are synonymous with each other. To achieve happiness, according to women’s magazines, all you need to do is remove your flaws, lose the weight and do it all ‘the healthy’ way.
MYTH: Healthy does NOT have a size. You can be overweight (and even obese) and perfectly healthy. The same way you can be thin & slim and UNHEALTHY.
It’s true that obesity may raise your risk of certain diseases: but obesity in and of itself is NOT a disease. While I encourage people to move, eat healthier & make significant changes in their lives, I know that in order to be ‘healthy’, their bodies need to function efficiently: even without weight loss, people who engage in healthy practices can improve their health immensely. Regardless of their size.
Don’t let anyone tell you that healthy has a certain ‘look’. It doesn’t.
Appearance is Everything.
In Cosmo‘s regular workout and health sections, readers are once again sent the message that weight loss = fitness = sex appeal. The emphasis on appearance rather than health or abilities is reinforced in every issue by the “You, Even Better” section and regular fitness and health features. For example:
- “The Ultimate Sexy A** Workout” (“to kick your booty into shape in time for skinny jean season!”)
- “45 ways to instantly feel sexy and healthy” (with a young woman in a short, flipped-up dress, exposing her legs and breasts)
- “Diet Dangers,” featuring “The Dumbest Thing You Can Do to Your Boobs,” on how yo-yo dieting “will make your twins less perky” instead of “gorgeous and firm” (with an extremely thin and almost completely nude young woman covering her breasts with her hands and posing in the mirror)
- “Can Getting Fit Get You a Date?”
Each of these (and sooo many more) are examples of how Cosmo combines health-oriented terms with oppressive, objectified terms that forfeit real fitness in favor of a sexualized male gaze. When the most popular magazine for women 18-49 marginalizes actual health and fitness by focusing exclusively on what they claim will increase sex appeal, there’s a problem. Counteract this messed-up fitness perspective in your own life by joining us for a NEW kind of New Year’s resolutions (no matter when in 2012 you start) in our Body Hate Apocalypse!
This article is so full of WIN, it hurts. Excerpts…
Henry Farid, a Dartmouth Professor who specializes in digital forensics, put it quite succinctly: “The more and more we use this editing, the higher and higher the bar goes. They’re creating things that are physically impossible. We’re seeing really radical digital plastic surgery…big breasts, tiny waist, ridiculously long legs, elongated neck. All the body fat is removed, all the wrinkles are removed, the skin is smoothed out.” But you don’t have to be a professor to see this impossibly high bar being raised higher by the minute.
We are in the midst of a beautiful reality that is ours once we recognize it and grasp hold of it.And studies show that when we can learn to love ourselves – despite the beauty ideals we are surrounded by and cannot obtain – it shows! Recent studies show us that girls who don’t like their bodies or appreciate them – regardless of their actual appearance – become more sedentary over time and pay less attention to having a healthy diet. And that makes sense. If you think you’re gross and worthless, why would you take care of yourself?
On the flipside of that study, research has found that girls who feel good about themselves and respect their bodies – regardless of what they look like - are more likely to be physically active and eat healthy. They are less likely to gain unnecessary weight and they make healthy lifestyle choices far into the future. How we think about our bodies and our beauty has everything to do with how we treat ourselves. When we can learn to love and respect ourselves, regardless of how our bodies appear, it shows! We must learn this now and we must begin to teach the little girls in our lives how beautiful their realities are and can always be.
Here’s an outrageous idea: What would happen if confident, happy, beautiful women decided to forego painful and expensive anti-aging procedures, breast lifts and enhancements, liposuction, all over hair removal or tanning regimens? How could that change the way their daughters, students, friends, nieces and coworkers perceived themselves and their own “flawed,” lined, real faces? Their own varied-looking and perfectly functional breasts, behinds, thighs, arms and abs? How could simply owning and (treating kindly and speaking nicely about) our so-called “imperfect” bodies affect not only our own lives, but those over whom we have influence? Is it possible to slowly but deliberately change the perception of these “flaws” as something to shame, hide and fix at any cost to something acceptable and embraceable in all their human, womanly real-ness?
We say yes.