Awhile back, my motto on my SparkPage was "Strong, Not Skinny". I'd recently found the "Strong is the New Skinny" ideal and I loved it. I loved the idea of muscles being sexy. I loved the idea of strength being sexy.
But something happened. The more I looked at the images being presented the more I realized that really the message was "Strong AND Skinny is sexy". Miles of photos of perfect headless six-packs and cleavage covered every facebook page. The message was skewed. And it wasn't motivating me. If anything, it was making me feel worse, I just didn't realize it quite yet.
You've probably heard of thinspo. I hope you have. And I hope that the sight of the word is making you grimace. The movement frequently encourages extremely thin bodies, going so far as to promote anorexic and bulimic lifestyles. The images you'll find on a thinspo page are full of hip bones, knobby knees and rib cages. If you enjoy those images, if you truly believe that this type of body is beautiful, I'm sorry. A body that is naturally very thin is one thing. Every woman is different and every woman is beautiful. But disordered bodies and disordered eating are sad and unhealthy. I won't apologize for having that opinion.
But let's take the next step and it's going to be difficult. It was for me. Fitspo is the same. There is very little difference. Just so we're on the same page, let me post some examples.
These images are just as unhealthy as thinspo. They are just another way for each of us to hate the body we have. They are a tool to sell product.
The message here is simple: Until you have this body, you cannot be happy. And if you don't have it, you aren't working hard enough.
I believed it. I fell for it. I honestly believed that if I could just continue to carve the fat away from my body I'd be more confident and finally satisfied. But the real truth is so much simpler.
If you refuse to love the body you have right this moment, starving and overtraining down to a body with a six pack is not going to magically heal your self-confidence. You will never be happy. Even more than that, for the vast majority of us, a body with perfectly carved abs and glutes is not attainable. And even if it were, it's not necessarily maintainable. Spend a little time reading pages like The Sweaty Betties, Rachel Mac, or Jenny Grothe's blog. These women all, at one time, modelled and competed. They had the ideal.
They also ended it with adrenal fatigue and metabolic dysfunction. They are a very small sampling of a much larger problem.
Holding ourselves to that ideal is to define ourselves as a body. Fitness is about health. It is not about torturing yourself with the goal of being a fitspo unicorn. Have you noticed that very few of those images ever include a woman's face? It's always a body part or a message that says, If you don't look like this, you aren't working hard enough.
Wanna know what the message really is?
Believing that strong is sexy is a great idea. I still believe it. But when I say that strong is sexy, I mean that women who can lift big girl weights amaze me. Not their bodies. Not their definition. Their ability.
if you've yet to pick up a bar or a 25lb dumbbell, or heck, even a five pound one, that's no excuse not to BE sexy. No image designed to tear you down can ever do that if you refuse to believe it. I don't want to believe that anymore. I want to believe that my strong functional body is perfect the way it is. And if it loses five pounds, it'll still be perfect. And if it gains ten, it's still perfect.
It is still worthwhile. And I can love it just the way it is.