I’d love to invite you all to take a look at the following images. Read the messages, and look at the pictures. How do they make you feel about yourself?
I don’t know about you… but these pictures made me feel pretty sucky. I consider myself a pretty active person- I go to the gym, I go to yoga, I participate in sports that I love (soccer, golf, snowboarding) and I do active things with my friends (hikes, biking). However looking at these pictures, it makes me feel like I’m lazy. That maybe I’m not working hard enough. That maybe since I’m not in extreme pain or tired during my activities, I’m not “pushing myself” to be the best.
But wait a minute, these pictures are supposed to be inspiring?? They aren’t about starving myself, and they show strong women with muscles, not the typical emaciated runway model with a thigh gap. I would like to pinpoint the differences between inspiration and unrealistic. When I think of people, quotes and pictures that are inspirational, I see myself in those. For example:
I really like this picture, and the quote, because I can see myself in it. I can realistically see myself as that girl, traveling the world, living my life with no regrets. It’s inspirational for me!
Now do I “see myself” in the pictures earlier in this post? Not really. The bodies are unachievable, and I feel like I would have to sacrifice a lot (e.g. friends, social outings, food) to achieve that look. And what happens if I do try, and I fail? I am going to feel crappy about myself. So tell me, are these “fitspiration” messages really just another way to body-shame?
My take-home message is simple. Living a long and healthy life does require effort, and some motivation to better yourself. However this “effort” does not mean 4 hour gym sessions, obsessions over “eating clean” or feelings of shame when you eat a slice of pizza. Effort will mean different things to different people. To me it means trying to drink at least 2 bottles of water per day. To someone else it might mean facing your fear of joining an intermural sport team. But set goals that are realistic, and know that these types of realistic goals are much more attainable and long-lasting than “sweat it out until you feel pain” 😛