To an Insecure Girl from the Guy Who Finds Her Incredible
Lately, I’ve noticed several articles cropping up around the web — from fellow Bloggers to the Huff Post — all focused on the same controversial issue: FITSPO.
Since this has become such a hot topic in the fitness community, I’m suddenly feeling the urge to “weigh in” and add my voice to the conversation. But, first, let’s clarify why Fitspo is even a thing and what its original intent was.
Here’s how Urban Dictionary defines the trend:
Short for “fitspiration.” Images of active, strong and fit women that promote proper exercise and diet.
So, that’s the purpose Fitspo supposedly aims to fulfill. However, now it’s teetering on the brink of soft porn.
Soft porn that makes you kinda sorta question everything about your physical worth.
(Like…does this REALLY have to be either-or?!?!)How did this movement — which should have been a positive and dynamic lifestyle initiative — veer so far off-course?
Hell, that’s what I wanna know.
When I initially heard about the whole “fitspiration” concept, I wasted no time jumping on-board. I mean, here was the confidence-booster we’d been waiting for, right?!
Thinspiration’s healthier twin sister.
Social media’s gift to female psyches everywhere.
Rather than bombarding us with airbrushed propaganda of unrealistically skeletal frames, Fitspo motivated us to strive for “strong” over “skinny.”Well, in theory anyway. Because that’s where the motivation ends. Despite these so-called good intentions, Fitspo still panders to an exclusive audience. It doesn’t celebrate the beauty of each unique physique but, instead, discriminates against body types that aren’t tucked and toned in all the right places.
Case-in-point: “strong not skinny” is actually a derogatory message. Some women are naturally thin — not eating disorder thin per se, but thin. They can’t change their builds any more than curvy women can.
Nor should they. Stick-straight, hourglass or voluptuous — the female figure is worth embracing, regardless of shape or size.
So, why have sculpted obliques and sinewy biceps become the arbitrary benchmark to gauge our “hotness” levels?
Well…umm…compliments of Fitspo.
Don’t get me wrong, if you do have sculpted obliques and sinewy biceps, take pride in those accomplishments. After all, fitness requires both effort and commitment. You know what though? Sometimes, even the most vigilant efforts won’t turn us all into Miranda Kerr doubles. And there’s no shame in that either.
Here’s the bottom line: I don’t feel inspired by body-shaming mantras disguised as “healthy” workout incentives.
I’m not gonna run a marathon because some Pinterest meme-creator thinks I’ll be spurred into action by Victoria’s Secret angels in barely-there spandex, sports bras and the uplifting text overlay — “Train Insane or Remain the Same.”Nope. I’ll exercise for ME, thanks. Not a subliminal you-aren’t-working-hard-enough quote, or some sexually stimulating model with an unattainable bod. Those are illusions. And illusions won’t get results.
Society has begun equating fitness with the feminine ideal, but this label misses the mark. Who cares about looking like a superficial slice of eye-candy when you can strive for personal acceptance instead? Exercise isn’t about some fleeting “Dayyyum, girl!” once-over.
Exercise is about vitality…toughness…exhilaration — both physically and mentally. Fitspo, however, won’t get you there.
So, what will?
- Gradual progress at your own steady pace.
- And self-love. Yeah, TONS of self-love.
My final advice, then? Unplug from this Fitspo trend. It’s basically just Thinspo with a sportier-sounding name.
A few days ago, while absentmindedly scrolling through my Facebook news feed, a certain article caught my attention. One of my female friends had posted it on her wall, along with a comment that said something like “Worst. Thing. Ever.”
The article was titled “5 Reasons to Date a Girl With an Eating Disorder.” (Warning: if you’re negatively triggered by dysmorphic body image material, I wouldn’t recommend clicking that link).
My initial reaction: Umm…WHAAAAAAT?!
Nevertheless, persuaded by morbid curiosity, I gave it a read. Then, subsequently wished I hadn’t. Only 1 word can adequately describe my feelings toward the archaic, misogynistic, and downright offensive message perpetuated in this article: Horror.
Just pure and utter horror.
Whoever wrote this (come at me, bro!) is – in my admittedly biased opinion – a heinous human being. I consider myself a tolerant, unflappable individual, but I have ZERO patience for someone, who spouts unfounded and verbally abusive nonsense about such a sobering societal issue as mental illness.
An eating disorder is no joking matter. It’s a life-threatening concern that runs rampant in today’s culture. It does not discriminate across gender, racial, or socioeconomic boundaries. It trashes self-esteem. Destroys relationships. Ravages both mind and body. Causes long-term physical and emotional repercussions. It even has the power to kill.
Nope, not amusing. At all.
However, the dude behind this post sees things differently. From his sexist and – can we all agree?! – skewed POV, men should pursue anorexic and/or bulimic women for the following reasons:
- They look sexy.
- They won’t cost big bucks on date night.
- They’re easily dominated.
- They probably come from money.
- They’re great in bed.
Let me just begin by pointing out that I have personally battled and overcome anorexia, so I can assure you none of these claims are factual. But, for good measure, I’ll break them down one-by-one.
- Sick isn’t sexy. It’s detrimental. Is outward beauty such a deal-breaker that a guy would rather see his girl suffer than gain 5 pounds?
- Not all disordered eaters starve themselves completely. But, even if they did, what kind of cheap bastard goes on a date without his wallet?
- Au contraire. While this illness does attack confidence levels, I’ve known several ED survivors (myself included), who are feisty little spit-fires. Dominate that!
- I was raised middle class. And I met girls in treatment, whose financial backgrounds ran the gamut from gated communities to inner cities. Wealth is NOT a contributing factor.
- To quote the author, “It’s a well-known fact that crazy girls are exceptional in the sack. A girl with an eating disorder has just the right cocktail of pent-up insecurity, neuroses, and daddy issues to ensure that your whole building knows every time you’re beating it up.” Yup. Nailed it. But not really.
Here’s another point worth mentioning: in the article’s comment section, some male readers were telling a (rightfully!) incensed female reader, “Chill out. It’s satire.”
Ummm…let’s examine that cavalier dismissal, shall we? As a former theatre major, I’ve read my fair share of satirical literature, from “The Importance of Being Ernest” to “Cloud Nine.” Satire uses “humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues” (source: dictionary.com). In other words, it aims to promote something more than misogyny.
Sorry, folks. Not buying the “it’s satire” argument.
Instead, I’ll offer a counterargument. Call it the “5 Reasons to Date a Girl With an Eating Disorder” in reverse. Consider, if you will, “5 Reasons to Date a Girl, Who Has Recovered from an Eating Disorder.”
Also known as The Truth:
- She has fought hard to achieve confidence and self-respect.
- She recognizes and appreciates the value of inner beauty.
- She exhibits joy and gratitude for life’s simple pleasures.
- She does not demand perfection and freely forgives a slip-up.
- She knows better than to take loving relationships for granted.
Think about it. This girl is a survivor. She has a positive new lease on life. She voices her opinions and beliefs. She can be counted on for honesty. She admits to vulnerable moments, but isn’t controlled by them. She laughs at her own idiosyncrasies and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She embraces both strengths and weaknesses. She’s one tough chick and will go the distance for a real man, who treats her like his equal. Basically, this girl is a badass.
She lives with spirit, as though each day is hers alone to carpe diem.
And loves with fierceness, as though her chosen person deserves happiness just as much as she does.
I became preoccupied with obtaining a “thigh gap” before I even knew it had a name. Let alone a hashtag.
All I knew was if my feet were together but my thighs were NOT apart, then that equaled failure. If they so much as grazed against each other during an evening jog, I’d inwardly curse the loose folds of cellulite that had taken up residence there. Granted, this egregious cellulite only existed inside my head, but still…
Why. The. Hell. Must. Those. Stupid. Thighs. Touch?!
What is this madness?!
Madness indeed. Not only was I fixated on a meaningless centimeter of space between my inner thighs, but now millions of other young women are too. You can’t scroll through an Instagram feed or peruse Tumblr posts without being inundated by this troubling trend. #MindTheGap has recently become just as much an institution as social media itself. Proponents of the elusive “gap” use these sites as sounding boards to either tout their progress or bemoan their inadequacy. Nope. There’s no mistaking it: thigh gap fixation has given us tunnel vision toward our own physical appearances.
It’s no longer acceptable to simply be considered fit and trim overall. Now every last INCH of our bodies demands perfection.
But, let’s be honest, are thigh gaps even all that noticeable? If you didn’t spend a solid 10 minutes positioning your legs at just the right angle to snap a boastful – and perhaps teeny tiny bit…filtered – selfie, would your friends have any idea that you claim membership in the Thigh Gap Club? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Which raises even more questions: Why is this our new benchmark for beauty? Why is a sliver of breathing room separating 1 skin layer from another suddenly the latest status symbol? Why do we measure personal success in such superficial, fleeting terms?
No, really. WHY?!
Do yourself a favor next time you cringe at your own reflection. Rather than gauging the dead air between your legs, consider instead how those same legs move you through each miraculous day of your beautiful life.
Not that’s worth minding.
So, I started a blog. Well…so what, right? Just imagine for a second how many millions of blog posts get published every single day. And I’m just one tiny blip on the radar. So, why should this matter? Hell. Why should you even read it?
You might have skimmed the title page and made an (accurate) assumption that I’ll be blogging about everyone’s 2 favorite topics (read: those pesky little guilt-trippers we all love to hate): Health and Fitness.
*Insert eye rolling.* Great. Just great.
Well, isn’t that convenient?! Yet another reminder you aren’t taking care of yourself in the same obsessive way Cameron Diaz does. That you skipped working out again this week (yup, that gym membership sure was money down the drain!). That while all your Facebook friends are running marathons, posting photos of their “bikini bods,” and yakking about the latest juice cleanse (skinny bitches!), you’re just over here on the couch with a glass of wine in one hand, a sleeve of Oreos in the other, and a “Friends” re-run on TV. Hey now! Even Monica Gellar knows the finer things in life include junk food.
So, you’re gonna pass on the “thin-spiration,” right? Thanks but no thanks. Who needs one more blogger droning on about her experience with Clean Living, Paleo Diets, Yogalates, or whatever the hell this week’s big hype might be.
“After all,” you’re probably thinking, “she’ll just turn out to be a bitch too” (“I bet she even senses where I hide my secret Godiva chocolates stash!”). The horror.
Well…as long as we’re confessing our guilty pleasures here, let me tell you a little something: I love chocolate too.
And cheesecake. And frappuccinos with extra whip. And queso-smothered nachos. And French fries. And take-out Chinese. What I’m saying is I GET IT. I understand the cravings, temptations, and post-“food coma” shame. Yup, I’ve even pulled the old “I’m too tired for exercise” excuse. I UNDERSTAND.
I also understand the social stigmas.
Look. Here are the facts: we’re all woman trying to keep our heads above water in this calorie-counting, fad dieting, food shaming, thigh gap-trending, Soulcycling, image-obsessed culture of the 21st century. We’ve gotten more weight-conscious than Barbie Doll herself. It’s not enough that magazines Photoshop their (already stunning) cover girls…if there was a way to Photoshop ourselves in real life, we would’ve done that yesterday.
Blame the media. Blame red carpets. Blame glossy “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issues. Blame that guy who reads a “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue. Blame that spray-tanned chick who Instagrams a selfie and hashtags #skinnygirlsareprettygirls. Blame effing Jennifer Aniston. Blame yourself for not being like her.
Blame. Blame. Blame. Blah. Blah. Blah.
But enough with the blame game already! Why do we instinctively hate that petite blonde in line at Starbucks, who orders a tall-no-sugar-no-foam-skinny-soy-latte, and unknowingly forces everyone behind her to follow suit? WHY?! I’ll tell you why: because her tight toned ass looked damn good in those yoga pants, so the rest of us just couldn’t resist rattling off the exact same “let’s pretend it’s coffee” order.
It’s simple, really. We thrive off competition. We love to outdo each other in the looks department. And maybe that’s why Health and Fitness have become such taboo subjects.
But I’m not some ripped and intimidating Jillian Michaels wannabe screaming at other women to drop the Cheetos, log off Netflix, and hit the treadmill. My goal is to empower women to discover (and hopefully, embrace) the beauty they already possess.
Because, ladies: you are strong. You are able. You are sexy. You are wholly unique.
And furthermore, your minds and bodies are powerhouses waiting…wanting…to achieve their full potential through (you guessed it!) Health and Fitness.
*Insert eye roll-*
No, wait! Stay with me because I’ve got a weapon in my arsenal that I’m willing to bet the average “thin-spiration” blogger lacks. I’ll never preach suppressing your hunger or camping out at the gym. My concern is balance. And moderation. And mindfulness. 3 basic principles that nearly saved my life a few years back.
Real talk. I went from being severely anorexic and consumed by a singular pursuit of physical perfection to content with WHO I am and HOW my body functions. That’s my aim for you too. And for anyone else, who happens to stumble upon my ramblings.
So, it might indeed be a tiny blip on the radar. But let me assure you…it’s not just another blog.