- ‘Fitness’ goals have become seemingly interchangeable with body image.
- Society has terrorised the vast majority of the population with unfair body ideals and expectations since time immemorial.
- It IS possible to protect and remove yourself from the beauty standards rat race.
An unpopular opinion.
A solid chunk of those ‘fitness influencers’ you’re following on Instagram don’t actually give a sh*t about health and fitness. They just want to look pretty. You want to know how I know? Because I’m guilty too.
As a personal trainer, you would expect that my entire life would have revolved around the pursuit of health and fitness, right? Wrong. Until recently my entire training regimen was dominated by one goal and one goal only; to get BIG! Big shoulders, big butt, big arms, big chest everything BIG (except for the waistline of course). It was only when I recently decided to shift The Camp Fitness into a more body positive state of being that I was faced with some hard truths for myself. I realised that not once in my entire, almost decade long ‘fitness’ career had I ever set myself a fitness goal that was not tied to my body image. I’m definitely not trying to insinuate that EVERYBODY is in the same boat. My hat goes off to those of you that can honestly say you’re in it or the fitness! I know for a fact, however, that vast swathes of people who are currently undertaking or thinking of embarking on some kind of fitness journey are doing it solely for the aesthetics.
Where did it all go wrong?
At what point did we abandon fitness in favour of beauty ideals? Chances are never. In fact it seems likely that we only ever truly valued the beauty ideals! Right now fitness just happens to be a part of the equation. History in its entirety is littered with societal edicts on what the ideal body should and should not look like. When it comes to beauty it seems nothing is sacred and everything from body fat percentage and muscularity to breast and penis size have come under intense scrutiny at some point or another. I’d be willing to bet money that, should we invent a time machine tomorrow; while hopping back and forward through the ages, at EVERY single stop we would find some poor soul staring at an ancient hieroglyph, renaissance painting or instagram feed and agonising silently ‘I wish I looked like that’. From the shrunken female feet of dynastic China to the impossibly lean male bodies of Athenian Greece we have literally NEVER been free from the bondage of ideal body tyranny. The length and breadth of demands is truly mind boggling and the only consistent theme appears to be the exclusion/shaming of pretty much everybody.
Eff Your Beauty Standards!
I am no longer beholden to your beauty standards! My body is MINE and I refuse to be further subjected to your dehumanising specifications! Lol Jks, if only it was that easy. I can’t say with certainty that I will EVER truly escape the iron grip of societally imposed beauty standards. I can, however, guarantee that i’m aware of them and ready to call them out at every chance I get. You can be sure that I’ve unfollowed EVERY single #fitspo account on my socials and replaced them all with body positivity of every creed and colour. I can also assure you that I’ll be making a conscious effort to ensure that I NEVER walk into the gym with the sole purpose of fitting the mould again. I know that fitness is inextricably linked with health and longevity. I can also testify to the positive effect that exercise has on mental wellbeing, so giving it up is not and never will be an option. So now that I am faced with a brave and bold new world, the question ‘what next? Is begging to be answered! In the absence of questions like ‘what do I have to do to get bigger?’ And ‘what can I do to look more like that guy from Love Island?’ I am faced with alien queries like ‘what does my body need more of?’ And perhaps the most disturbingly difficult of them all ‘what do i actually want to do?’.
Watch this space!