Thursday 17 October 2013

The Trouble With Most "Fitspiration" Pictures

photo property of Maria Kang at
Okay, so there is a lot of controversy over this woman's photo, which reads "What's Your Excuse?" Some are upset and offended and some think those who are upset or offended are "just jealous."

My take is this: There are millions of "fitspiration" photos all over the web. I've even shared some here. They all show women with model bodies. I'd rather see a photo of an overweight mother who is jogging in the park while pushing one kid in a stroller and having the other riding a bike beside her with the words "No excuses" than yet another photo implying "If you only worked harder, you too could look like this!"

According to the woman in the middle of the controversy, I not only have more kids than her, I workout more than she does. And guess what? My body will never look like hers. Every body is different. Every mind is different. Healthy on one person will not look the same as healthy on another person.

Yes, we shouldn't be making excuses not to be as healthy as we are capable of being. But that doesn't mean we will ever look like her. And that's a good thing. She suffers from anorexia (or as she says, she used to suffer from it). Her body should NOT be the ideal. No one shape should be the ideal.

The problem with these "fitspiration" photos is that they propagate this unrealistic ideal body, the same unrealistic ideal body that we women have had thrown in our faces for decades now by the media. I just want to tell the media, "Enough! Show me real women of ALL sizes!"

I don't want my daughters to grow up thinking that their bodies aren't good enough because photos like these keep circulating around, implying that they should look more like the photos.

I do, however, understand what Maria Kang was trying to do with her photo. She was trying to be motivational. Her intentions were good. And yes, she looks fabulous. So all of the people being mean to her are misguided. Her intention was only to say, "Leave your excuses behind and do something." She's trying to show that, although she could have used her children as excuses not to work out, she didn't. It's not entirely her fault that her body fits perfectly into the media ideal that we are all so tired of being compared to. So stop hating her.

I have, in the past, made the statement that, "If I can do it, anyone can." I am told now, by others and through comments they have made on similar statements made by someone other than me, that this is not helpful and some are offended by these kinds of statements. So I guess I know where Maria Kang was coming from in a way. I was trying to be inspirational, and for some, that statement made by me WAS inspirational, but for others, it was offensive. I only meant, when I said the phrase, to show how I had overcome many obstacles to achieve what I achieved and that I felt that, as someone who had never really achieved anything beforehand and as someone raising a larger-than-most family, if others could see what I had achieved maybe they could believe in their ability to achieve success too. I did NOT mean to say that there was anything wrong with someone who hadn't achieved the weight loss. I did NOT mean to say that everyone's journey would be anything like my own, and I did NOT mean to say that anyone should be striving to look like me. (Most of you wouldn't want my stretch marks, loose skin or freckles anyway.)