My social media feed regularly spouts pornographic images of, chiseled bodies called “Fitspo”. Short for “fit inspiration,” the photos sometimes include messages about discipline, pushing your limits, and empowerment.
So why do these images irritate me?
Apparently, fitness boils down to looking good in a bikini. The epitome of the female body shifts with each historical era and the muscled physique appears to be a current ideal. The commercialized homogeneity imposes a rigid definition of beauty and contorts our self care efforts.
I question the notion of exercising to achieve a “perfect” body.
- The slogans promote enduring punishing workouts and promise the reward of perfection. If exercise is a means to an ends, we keep our movements within the narrow confines of high intensity. Instead, we could relish various levels of intensity and ranges of motion.
- Long-term health may be compensated for short term weight loss. The marketplace cultivates women’s body insecurity while peddling absurd dietary information and products. Disordered eating and overtraining becomes a very slippery slope away from prevenative self care.
- If your efforts don’t yield an ideal body, you may give up. Conscious movement rewards us in the moment and exercise grants a lifetime of benefits. Regardless of how you look, why give all that up?
- Constantly striving for an impossible standard, you may perpetually feel like a failure. Without the “perfect” body, many women never give themselves permission to live a fulfilled life.
- Even with the genetics of an athletic model, we all age. Today you may be thin, young, and rockin’ the bikini but the party won’t last. When the body fails to remain a static ideal and getting older could be a tragedy. Alternatively, sustainable health practices may uncover the wonders of aging.
Each body adapts to exercise uniquely. Healthy choices unveil our optimal generic expression. Luckily, we will never all look the same. Take a look around the world: see the vast array of embodied beauty, strength, and vitality.
In emulating these images, we buy into the warped, mass-marketed myth that a lean body always equates to health. “Fitspo” pounds the incessant drumbeat of striving and conquering. It suggests that if we struggle and sweat enough, we will arrive in the promise land of a thin, “healthy” body.
Equally important to our wellbeing are the trainable skills of receptivity, agreeability, and relaxation. A consistent practice requires a negotiation between self acceptance and the will for change. Our health requires both effort and ease.
Let’s give the photoshopped, porn star, gym rats a rest. Instead of flat, external images a movement practice reveals our unique, inner potential.