This is not going to make me very popular, but my stance is this – I don’t care if you’re promoting “health” or “fitness” or “strength”:
You Should Never Be Made Feel You’re Not Good Enough By Anyone Else’s Standards
In a philosophical moment during a discussion on this topic, I tweeted this and it reminded me of this article, About Time: We Stop The Gym Selfie – which I related a lot to, but divide friends of mine in the Facebook comments. In the end, we agreed there was a flaw in the article’s approach in that it should have been less anti-fitspo but instead highlighting the negative language that’s being confused with “empowering”, and how this movement should be about loving yourself more and not focusing on what you don’t like.
I can already see myself using a lot of “air quotes” in this piece.
In the end, I stand by my support of this article. I have long unfollowed many of the “fitspo” Instagram accounts I had once looked to simply for lunch inspiration, for this exact reason. I saw the negativity creeping in. I felt the guilt creep in. And it felt all-too familiar. At the end of the day, I don’t care what you call it, body shaming is body shaming.
“Yeah, but that’s your problem you feel bad looking at those pictures.”
“You’re following the wrong accounts, there are so many that are far more positive.”
“It’s supposed to be inspiring, not a guilt-trip.”
I’ve been told I’m being too sensitive, and maybe I am, but excuse me if the constant flipflopping between “clean eating” and “cheat days” has worn me down. I’m not sorry that I don’t feel that I have to justify everything I eat because I’ve meticulously calculated the nutritional value of every grain rice on the plate at that time. Forgive me if I don’t want to indulge in a post-binge-pitty party or a self-congratulatory gym selfie. It’s not my problem that I don’t want to hear how much protein is in your powdered shake, it’s your problem that you feel you need to tell me about it.
I find it ironic how a movement so rooted in self-improvement and has simultaneously become an echo-chamber of compliment-seeking.
“Jennifer Lawrence Tastefully Flaunts Her Curves” is still a bullsh*t headline. “J-Law Is A Human That Wears Clothes” Done.
Women’s media has programmed us to think this way. Yes, tinfoil hats unite, it’s the media making us think this way. That’s how I feel. For decades magazines glorified diets, and workout routines, and shamed the female form when it looked in any way “imperfect’. How is “FitSpo” any different? How is it not just another form of telling women “this is how you should look” with its carefully posed, heavily filtered snaps?
No, social media is no different, and women still flock to these outlets asking “What should I be eating?” “How do I get these results?” “Why can’t I look like her? …” Show me a woman who hasn’t, even for just a brief moment of weakness, said or felt one of these things. Tell me just how is sharing quotes like “strong is the new skinny” any better than teasing “real women have curves”? Am I less of a woman because I didn’t want to go for a run this evening? No. Fuck you.
“Real Girls” are just girls, simple as
There are plenty of people who’s health and fitness journeys have been truly inspiring to watch, and I never for a second begrudge them for sharing their stories. However, I think there’s a fine line between an inspiring update and a preachy lecture on Facebook.
Yes, you’re going to tell me “they’re not all like that” – but I’m going to tell you, there’s enough of them.
There’s enough self-appointed experts, bloggers-turned-consultants, models-turned-dieticians, for us all to see that sooner or later this so-called health revolution will become just another channel that exploits impressionable girls’ insecurities. Maybe it has already; how many strange news stories does there need to be about “tea-toxes” in the name of “clean living”? Already the hours of dedication in the gym has become too much to ask for some, and we’ve seen intelligent women getting dangerous butt implants to achieve that squat-sculpted ass. All this, in the hopes it fast-tracks them to FitSpo Fame.
Yes, there will always be people who take it wrong, who seek advice from the wrong sources, or, like me, who are too caught up in the semantics to see the “real message” – but that’s exactly my point; there always will be, no matter what.
So stop thinking your precious “FitSpo” is somehow exempt and ask yourself, who is that gym selfie really helping?