Since I believe I’ve secured my little spot on the web as the world’s most cynical wannabe female fitness blogger, I thought I’d own it.
Today while I was checking my email, I saw this banner ad:
They’re not even trying to make these girls look like people anymore.
Our culture’s ridiculous assumption that we should all compare ourselves to blatantly retouched images is something I’d love to expand upon, (and many people have) but right now I’d just like to connect this ridiculous notion with another.
I went to another (actual) fitness blog and saw this:
I think graphics like this are the reason why a lot of people think it’s impossible for them to begin a sustainable routine. I realize it may be easy for personal trainers to post these images and cutesy inspirational sayings up on their sites, but for a lot of people, all they see is yet another impossibly beautiful girl doing something impossible.
When I see images like this, I can hear the scoff of post-ballet, pre-college grad Megan from just a few years ago resonating in my head:
Of course she loves her body. I would too if I looked like that.
I’ve always been relatively slender, but that was due more to luck of the draw than to hard work, especially in college. Between work, rehearsals, and class, I really didn’t have much time to learn how to go to a gym and eat right. When I found myself out of breath climbing Bethany College’s hills before class, I’d blame my body for betraying me, then feel ashamed that I didn’t do more to keep myself healthy. Really, I didn’t even know how to do it.
This pattern caused me to hate my body. Irrational as it sounds, though, I think this mentality is pretty common, which is why graphics of pretty girls smiling and loving their bodies are never the rallying flag people need to take back control and form a relationship with their bodies based on mutual respect.
Pictures of pretty girls smiling at how great they are at yoga aren’t going away anytime soon. But I reject and take umbrage with the notion that I’m expected to be an ultra-feminine skinny ray of sunshine in the gym. I’m not.
I eat well and exercise because I’m a human, and that’s what humans have to do. Yes, we’re blessed with intelligence that allows us to sit in front of our computer screens for 12 hours, but to live a fulfilled life, the relationship between body and mind must be at least civil, if not exemplary. With that in mind, I have my own inspirational graphic: