Charlotte recently wrote about a subject that’s been increasingly bothering me since I joined Pinterest and that’s fitspiration (ie fit inspiration). Aside from the fact that I’ve had to unfollow several boards of friends if I wanted to open it up at work (hey some of us eat at our desk half the time!) and a lot of fitspo is a bit over the line nsfw-wise, but also because so much of it seems to be just another unattainable ideal with added shaming messages for not reaching it.
Looking at rock-hard body after rock-hard body it occurred to me that fitspo may be thinspo in a sports bra. After all, the problem with thinspo is that the images represent a mostly unattainable ideal that requires great sacrifices (both physical and mental) to achieve and I daresay that most of those “perfect” female bodies, albeit muscular instead of bony, are equally as problematic. Many people will say that while it’s rare to be born with skinny genes but that muscle can be built with hard work in the gym. And I agree. But in most of these pictures, we’re not looking at your average woman who does Bodypump twice a week and can now lift her children with ease. We’re looking at a very exclusive set of dedicated athletes that train very hard and eat a very particular diet to maintain extremely lean figures. A second argument would be that super skinny is unhealthy while exercise is very healthy. Again I agree. Except that for the majority of women to look like the girls in these fitspo pictures they’d have to be young, probably not have had kids and quite possibly have an unhealthy devotion to exercise and eating. And let’s remember that women need body fat not only for spawning but also for our own health. I’m not saying every fitness model has an eating disorder. I promise! I am saying though that compulsive over exercise can be just as deadly as other eating disorders and yet it so socially sanctioned that it’s often promoted as inspiring.
Going through my own pinterest fitspo board, I noticed that the only images I’ve pinned are ones where the woman is doing something not just looking fit.