I’ve recently got back into running because I’ve realised that the 10km that I signed up for is stupidly soon and I have done literally no training. The first run was so sweaty and painful that I really needed a motivation boost; which is when I stumbled upon a slightly disturbing world that I’d never really come across before: the “fitspiration” blog.
The term “thinspiration” may be familiar to you; pictures of unhealthily thin women are posted all over Tumblr as a form of inspiration for young women to lose weight, which of course is frightening and dangerous, both to health and self-esteem. As I was looking through these “fitspiration” or “fitspo” blogs though, although they are hailed as being a healthy form of motivation, something dawned on me as being not quite right.
The creators of these blogs post photos of incredibly beautiful women advocating exercise and a healthy diet, but beneath the surface, it’s not as encouraging as it seems; the women are all unattainably toned and slim, and whilst it’s important to eat well, the notion of a purely “clean” diet is just impossible if you’re going to enjoy eating at all. I saw that one of the photos had the caption “Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going” and it became clear to me that these “fitspo” blogs aren’t about being healthy at all, they’re just another form of body-shaming, of making you feel guilty for not wanting to push yourself to extremes to look a certain way. The message behind these pictures is that you’re not okay in the body that you have, and you should work hard to change it, which is just not true. Your body is the vessel that keeps you alive, enables you to walk, talk and think, and whilst it’s obviously important to keep it healthy and exercise regularly, there’s no need to put unnecessary pressure on yourself to look a certain way; in the end, it’s your mind, not your appearance that will give you the most happiness.
I don’t know if it’s a problem specific to our society, or whether this is a timeless issue, but right now a great deal of women feel like they’re not worth as much if they don’t look incredibly beautiful, and in my opinion “fitspo” is doing nothing but perpetuate this feeling of inadequacy, that if you don’t feel like working out, you’re lazy. My opinion may not count for much amidst all of the other voices telling you that you must be thinner or fitter than you are, but I think it’s perfectly fine if you want to eat a pizza instead of a salad once in a while, and I think it’s much more important to strive to be a better person, than to be a person with a better body.
It is a fact that you should never feel bad about yourself if you are happy and comfortable in the skin you have, no matter if anybody else says otherwise. If you’re happy eating chocolate, eat some bloody chocolate. If you’re happy to never attain a six-pack, then don’t. The most important thing is to be yourself, and set your own standards about who you want to be as a person.
It is a fact that you should not have to strive to be thin, toned or uber-fit. Strive to be you.