I've seen a plethora of media outlets talking about being 'fit'. This movement has been nicknamed 'fitspiration'. Remember the whole 'thinspiration' movement that encouraged thinness... Remember how people fought back by creating anti-thinspo quotes that flooded Pintrest, Twitter and Facebook. People were upset that thinness instead of health and wellness were being encouraged, leaving many people feeling ashamed about their bodies. Let's not be fooled that fitspiration is no different.
Two of the most upsetting quotes I saw read, "Strong is the new Skinny" and "Skinny people look good in clothes, fit people look good naked". WHAT? Really? All thats changed is the wording. The obsession with the body is still there. It's like they are saying, not only do you have to be thin, you must now also be fit, have a six-pack, and total muscle definition on your entire body. The expectation just became greater! Let's not fool ourselves that this message is somehow less damaging than the thinspiration ones. It is still encouraging us to track numbers, whether by how many kilometres we've run or how many pounds we've bench pressed. It's still the wrong message we need to be seeing and believing!
I want to make perfectly clear that I am all for exercise and strength building... I am not denying that exercise has a place in everyone's lives. Many studies show the positive health benefits of raising our heart rate, moving our bodies and doing weight resistant activities... The type of exercise I stand behind is HEALTHY, BALANCED and SUSTAINABLE exercise. It needs to be done in a way that encourages us to listen to our bodies when it tells us to stop. Exercise that allows for mindfulness when we are doing it. Exercise that has the end result of health in mind instead of a certain physical form, waistline or looking good naked (one of the fitspiration arguments). Let's not narrowly define what is beauty!
Fitspiration does not teach individuals how to have a healthy relationship with exercise. In fact, it disguising healthy aspects of exercise with unhealthy ones. For example, in some of the posts, outdoor exercise was encouraged (GREAT! Not all exercise has to be in a gym setting), but then it was paired with an image of a toned, thin woman (NOT SO GREAT). Others are just so blatantly unhealthy (which I choose not to repeat as I do not want to trigger or support by repeating). Where's the health at every size model? Why can't you pair exercising outside with someone of all shapes and sizes. Guess what... people have cellulite and that doesn't equate to unhealthiness. Mother's have stretch marks and it's okay if they don't go away. Men do not have to have to look like the Hulk. We need to encourage and communicate healthy and balanced exercise. We must not neglect our spiritual, mental, emotional and social needs by spending so much time building our physical physique. Fitspiration moves way past building strength to a whole other level than meeting physical needs. And my question is... what's that really about?