In the interest of being clear, I am a person who has a Pinterest board called ‘Running Motivation.’ Here is a small sample of images from that board:
One image ‘type’ that I will never, ever post is the ‘Strong is the new skinny’ image. Like this:
Now, theoretically I guess there is nothing wrong with these images, and the concept of strong being better than skinny is great. I am all for body love, but I also think that we’ve gone too far into body love land. What I mean is that when we’re telling very overweight and obese people that they are okay just the way they are then there is something wrong. Bring too large is as dangerous and unhealthy as being too skinny, but you wouldn’t know it sometimes: while fat shaming is clearly not on, neither is the promotion of the idea that you’re perfect no matter what size you are, as long as that size isn’t tiny.
So, this is one of my problems with fitspiration: unhealthy levels of body acceptance sentiments are just as dangerous if your accepting super skinny, too large and, yes, unhealthy levels of strength. The women who feature in these images aren’t representative of average women. They spend huge amounts of time training to get the rock hard perfectly chiseled six pack (which, by the way, would be almost impossible to maintain due to the very low levels of body fat needed to show off muscles in that way…). The women in these images are also still impossibly skinny. Fair enough they aren’t bones-poking-out-at-odd-angles skinny, but in terms of actual body fat they would give the near-anorexic models of thinspiration fame a run for their money. Some are probably significantly less fat than thinspo women.
Now, I don’t want to put across the idea that I think that women (and men) who want to look like this and who want to put in the time and effort required to make it happen shouldn’t. They should. But people who just want to be ‘regular’ fit and healthy, shouldn’t be made to feel as though they need to be superfit. Or super skinny. People who are unhealthily under or overweight should be helped, not shamed.
This is all why I was kind of dreading reading this article in The Sunday Times Style magazine from August 4th:
While it’s not perfect, it’s not as bad as I imagined it was going to be (and, I didn’t know that Daisy Lowe could deadlift 80kgs, and now I do). I think this sums up what the article is trying to say:
The focus is less on what our bodies look like and more how we feel
Although, that is in relation to the mantra at a specific gym – it’s easily modifiable to something that we should be thinking:
The focus should be less on what our bodies look like and more how we feel
And, it should. And, when you’re fit and healthy you feel good. And when your too skinny or too overweight then you don’t feel good. And, if your goal is the lowest body fat you can manage, then as long as you feel good and you’re healthy then there’s no problem. The problem is that ‘fitspiration’ is doing the exact same thing as ‘thinspiration’ but to different girls. It’s making girls feel bad about themselves, not good about what they can do and achieve.