A few months ago, I sat down to write an e-book training program to help women without any muscle definition build natural feminine curves through weight training and proper nutrition, but I wasn’t even finished with the first sentence before I felt disgusted by the meaningless of it. “How to build a booty” doesn’t exactly help anyone fulfill their God-given purpose.
I stopped writing, opened Twitter and browsed the feed in attempt to ‘change the subject’. More meaningless advice, pointless complaints, and arrogant boasts littered the screen.
So what do I do now? My entire life has been all about fitness and nutrition, and building my brand, and developing my career, but recently I have no desire for any of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I still believe fitness is an incredible tool to challenge the human will, develop discipline and strengthen character; it’s one of the best ways to improve health and protect your ‘temple’ as it is preventative health care; and it is most certainly a healthy outlet for stress as physical and mental therapy. But how did we as a culture get so consumed with fitness that it became an obsession disguised as a motivational hashtag (#fitspo)? At what point did something healthy become unhealthy?
PEOPLE ARE MORE THAN JUST BODIES
As a professional in the fitness and entertainment industries with a degree in advertising, not only do I witness both the cause and the effect of the media messages, but I see who makes the content decisions and know how they go about making them and marketing them to the public. Most of the time the decisions are based in sales and consumerism, i.e. ‘what headline can we use that will sell the most magazines?’ or ‘how can we convince the public that our product is the best?’ Call it what you want in the name of marketing, but in all honesty, it’s just deception. (Check out the cover promises on this magazine cover…)
I believe we’ve gotten lazy in our search for truth. Fitness is just one example of this. We don’t know how to take care of our bodies, so we buy a magazine or a weight loss pill, or trust the health website that showed up on the first page of Google (the one with the highest SEO ratings…which is usually, again, just good marketing). We neglect to ask for sources. We fall for gimmicks. We see countless images of men and women in underwear (or without) selling sex in the name of fitness inspiration (or ‘fitspo’). We are again distracted.
What happened to the original quest? Weren’t we simply trying to figure out how to take care of our bodies? Now, suddenly we’re buying supplements we don’t need that may even be potentially harmful to our bodies, because some ‘fitness model’ or physique athlete endorsed it, and we want to look like they do, so we believe without question that that product is the reason they look the way they do.
My intention in writing this is not to bash other athletes, or magazines, or even mass media…but it is to create an awareness of the bigger picture we’re painting as a society; a warning of what our seemingly insignificant daily choices and social media voices are slowly manifesting. We are a culture so obsessed with ourselves that we are blind to how it truly affects others around us.
My intention here is simply to share what I observe from the perspective of someone who is on both sides of the spectrum, a #fitspo creator and consumer. As a creator I see how #fitspo begins with good intentions, but quickly ego takes the place of good intentions and the images that were meant to encourage and inspire now create arrogance, envy, body hate by comparison, and a mockery of modesty as images gradually shift from innocent ‘progress selfies’ to what is arguably soft-porn. I say this as someone who, by God’s grace alone, was able to see that shift happening in my own photos and stop before it got out of hand and/or threatened my integrity.
As a consumer, I am all too aware of my own ego, and not happy about it. I began my own fitness journey out of a need to escape my insecurities and psychological trama post abuse in college. I was looking for confidence, strength and empowerment. What began as just that, turned into a love of self that was not only unhealthy, but actually made me even more insecure due to competitive comparison. The lie I believed when I started competing in fitness competitions was that I wasn’t competing with the other competitors, but with myself…the ‘me of yesterday’. Truth is, the “fitter” I got, the better I was able to make my body look for the next show, the more I wanted to improve. It was never good enough. This is an extreme example, but I see this happening with our society due to the surge of social media #fitspo posts and messages to ‘train harder or else…’.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve strength, or even the proportions of your body with training and eating right. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking out images to inspire and motivate you to get off your butt and move and be healthier! But…too much of a good thing isn’t always beneficial.
With the rise of seemingly well-intentioned ‘fitspo’ posts and more people competing in bodybuilding and bikini competitions, you’d think the world would be getting healthier in mind and body, but instead, I see more insecurities now than ever before. Beautiful people, men and women, don’t believe that they are good enough. They believe they need to improve something and as soon as that something is better, they notice they should improve another area. Before you know it, they’re no longer looking to become a ‘better version’ of themselves, they’ve become a slave to their egos and a burden to everyone around them. What was healthy became unhealthy. What was intended for good either became perverted and flat out evil.
So where do I stand now? How do I maintain integrity and passion for the industry I love when I see it for the darkness it has become, void of value and riddled with the insatiable parasites of comparison, envy, and narcissism? How can I even bear to support the fitness industry when the lines of healthy and hot have been blurred into one goal. Why can’t we just train hard, but not to the point of total destruction, and enjoy healthy bodies that help us lead full lives instead of using hot bodies to collect compliments, feed ego, and fan the flames of lust and human objectification?
I think you know where I stand. I stand in defense of the original quest; of integrity, honor, health and vitality; of protecting innocence and the value of people as people, not objects or property to covet, envy, copy, clone, chastise, sell, use, and abuse or trash. I know where I stand, but I can’t make a change or an impact alone….but we can.
I finished that e-book, but I did it because I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting to know how to train and eat properly for any physical goal. The problem generally isn’t the method, but the motive. We need to make conscience decisions based in integrity and honor that will uplift, empower, and protect. This may look different to some, but even generally, I believe awareness is the first step to creating lasting change.
Even the smallest positive actions that occur as a result of that awareness will add up and compound and make a difference. Let’s continue to #causefitness together. Are you with me?
If you’d like to learn more about Cause Fitness, the brand, click here.
**Update: Since posting this on 7/14/14, my good friend and fitness talent inspiration, Amber Elizabeth, and author/inspiration and fitness industry great, Tosca Reno, both published blogs that support my views (I linked their blogs to their names). I couldn’t be more encouraged that two women who’ve inspired me for years both feel similarly on the topics at hand. Ladies, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU for speaking up, and standing up for integrity!**
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