This blog post has gone viral in recent days. It has lit up the internet all week, gathering moss with a mob mentality that I’m not on board with.
I understand where the author is coming from, and why. I’m in the fitness business too – I get it. I have seen women cry in my studio far too often, and for all the wrong reasons. In these times I have done my best to reassure them that nothing matters more than being a good mom, a good wife, and a good person in the community.
I say often that in the end none of us will be judged by the shape of our abs or whether we do sinister justice to a pair of skinny jeans. The pressure women feel to be lean, sexy, ripped, etc., is severe, it’s increasing, it’s everywhere, and is completely unnecessary.
However there aren’t just two sides to every story or every idea as this blog suggests. Like coastlines, ideas can be endlessly distilled with fractal geometry; the angles can be reduced to smaller angles, and smaller angles still, and are seemingly infinite. As always, I suggest one be careful before choosing sides, or piling on a cause too soon.
Most of the memes, and sayings represented in this blog post seem to have been created, and shared in the spirit of raising one’s game. I truly believe that, and I respect that. I seriously doubt that any non-corporate individual would ever create or caption signs like these as a way to belittle women, influence them into behavior they don’t wish to participate in, or to shame them into state of emotional distress.
This is not to suggest that it hasn’t happened, clearly it has. These ideas can be dangerous. But from the perspective of those who create, and share such memes, I’m sure there were no thoughts of the unintended consequences to be absorbed by women everywhere.
Does this mean they are “bullshit” as the author suggests…? I don’t believe so. For my part, I have tried hard to motivate, and inspire people without it use of such ideals. Even my personal tag, Train Like An Athlete, Eat Like A Shark, Walk Like A God is found to be over the top by some, so I don’t use it anymore. A little mindfulness and humility can go a long way. However I can appreciate the kind of motivation, effort, and the positive changes memes like these can facilitate.
Conversely, spreading the idea that real women have curves might seem innocent, and even supportive, but that’s dangerous too. I have seen many women through the years take unnecessary liberties with their own physicality, and abandon successful eating and exercise habits in favor of doing less for themselves because they have been told by others that it’s okay to do so. Too often, the others influencing this behavior do so because obesity, like misery, loves company.
The author refers to these ideals as, “irresponsible”. I find that statement itself irresponsible inasmuch as he’s placing himself on a pedestal as a voice of reason. Though he may be a voice of reason for some, he aims his passion and enthusiasm at many who are trying very hard to do good work, and for good reasons.
What further troubles me about this is that it also singles out, and belittles success – the success that many have experienced in finding or creating a new life. Being championed by, or championing others is an honorable endeavor. It’s unfair that many endeavors do have at least some unintended consequences. But really, who is that on…? I don’t believe what makes a woman real is six-pack abs or curves. What makes a woman real is her priorities.
Where I am in agreement with the author, and where I do take exception is when corporations invest millions of dollars into sharing these memes because they ARE trying to guilt and shame women into spending lots of money on devices, supplements, and products that will offer little or no return for that investment. These ad campaigns are aimed directly a woman’s self-esteem. I find that sickening, if not completely ‘Merican.
This fever this blog post has created is just one more example of people choosing sides in this social media era, piling on, and muting the conversation before the conversation ever begins. Ready. Fire. Aim.
The fitness industry is nearing the trillion dollar mark annually. Every day of my life I think about walking away from it – yes, every single day. On a very large scale, my industry is insincere, scheming, and false. At best, it’s smug, and lacks decorum as a collective.
There are some mindful people though, out there every single day working hard to help others – without passing judgment one way or another. Just knowing those people exist keeps me in the game – for now. Be well… rc
Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks. Enjoy…