So a couple of months ago I was browsing through my Instagram feed and stumbled across a picture of a shockingly thin teenage girl in a sports bra and tiny shorts in front a full length mirror with the caption of “fasted 10k run done, now for school and then a hiit session at the gym tonight!” and of course, this was accompanied by the hashtag #fitspiration. She looked so ill and so frail that she might collapse any moment, yet every single one of the comments were along the lines of “abs, abs, abs!” or “your figure <3” and the worst of all “I wish I looked like this”. After scrolling through her feed I actually ended up messaging this girl sharing my concerns over her health and she immediately opened up, telling me she can’t stop exercising and she purges everything she eats. That’s fitspo for you – what you see is never really the true story.
Fitspiration – described by Charlotte at The Great Fitness Experiment (http://www.thegreatfitnessexperiment.com) as “thinspo in a sports bra”. So is fitspo really any better than thinspo?
Fewer people know more about these two movements than myself. After suffering with disordered eating and exercising for a number of years, I would pour over “pro ana” websites, printing out the inspirational images of dainty, beautiful (and of course anorexic) girls and stick them beside my bed or on my mirror so I would see them every morning. There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this is NOT a healthy thing to do. Yet fitspo images are not all that dissimilar. They too promote the bodies of unrealistic, unachievable and 90% of the time unhealthy women and men, with the perfect six pack and a body fat that is dangerous to the average human. What is supposed to be a movement focusing on health has actually turned out to be quite the opposite: it teaches us if we are not working out for 3 hours a day, 7 days a week (#nodaysoff) or eating chicken and rice for every meal (#eatclean) then we are lazy and we deserve our “mediocre” bodies. To demonstrate, here are a few images I found, illustrating the absurdity of the fitspo world:
So not true. If you’re feeling sick one day, run down, headachey etc etc and you go to the gym, end up fainting/being sick all over the gym floor, I would say that was a pretty bad workout. If one day you have no energy and you drive 20 minutes to your gym only to feel exhausted and drive back, I would say that was a bad workout – and a waste of petrol. If you choose to have a gym session rather than spend time at a family occasion and you spend the whole time your working out miserable – yep, that would be a pretty bad workout too. There are so many GOOD reasons to skip the gym, so don’t be made to feel like a bad person because of one missed workout. You’re human.
ARE YOU SERIOUS? Fair enough, sweating in the gym is all well and good but bleeding? Breaking bones? Is this seriously suggesting that we have to physically break ourselves apart to be “fit”? When did fitness become about hurting ourselves and pushing ourselves to breaking point rather than feeling good and god forbid, enjoying ourselves?
Sooo now fit and healthy means squatting in our underwear and a crop top? And who are we to say that just because someone is skinny doesn’t mean they aren’t healthy? This is another thing the fitness industry needs to stop – body shaming. If we continue to pit women against each other based on the size of our bodies it just encourages us to place even more of our self worth on how we look compared to others.
So the next time you see an image of a woman (or man) with 11% bodyfat, ripped abs and a body they’ve probably sacrificed their whole social life for, ask yourself is this really motivating me to be a better version of myself or is this making me feel, to put it bluntly, like a worthless piece of lazy shit, who can never get that body anyway so what’s the use in trying? Fitness should be about how we feel on the inside, moving in a way that feels good and finding something we actually enjoy so it doesn’t feel like a chore.
Fitness is not a punishment – we should workout because we love our bodies rather than because we hate them.