Wednesday, October 19, 2011


WARNING: The following post contains pictures of women with their stomachs exposed, bikinis, and cleavage. It is for a purpose and a point, but if you would prefer not to see them you have been warned.

I don't get on my soapbox too often, but this is something that has really been bothering me lately. These are all pictures I've seen on pinterest that are under "fitness". Many of them are tagged "motivation" or "healthy" or "inspiration" or very commonly "I aspire to this". There about a bajillion worse photos taken from maxim that are labeled as such. Since when did maxim become the standard for fitness? The photos I selected for here, though, are tame compared to lots of them.

So what's my problem with this? Well I have a couple, so we'll start with the first. The first is that these bodies are unrealistic for most people. These pictures might have  been photo shopped to accentuate muscles, make waists tinier, boobs bigger, whatever. Even if these are real photos, those girls hit the genetic jackpot. I think it's safe to say most people do not look like this naturally. Or maybe these girls have had surgery to enhance themselves (I am not making a statement about surgery, just throwing out a possibility). I do recognize that it is a naturally occurring phenomenon for a small girl to have a big chest. Or that small girls get made fun of because they are "boyish". Women of all shapes and sizes have reasons to be down on themselves thanks to cultural pressure. As such, I'm not trying to be down on these women in these photos. I am just trying to make the point that these bodies are the exception and not the rule. Are the girls in these photos sexy? yes. Are they considered beautiful? yes. Is it healthy? Not necessairly. Which brings me to this photo:

This one bothered me the most. What sort of message does this send? That skinny is supposed to make you feel better? It's supposed to make you happy? That's my second problem with all of these photos. They're framed in a way that makes it sound like if you can just get to look like this, life is better. You'll have everything you want because being skinny made you feel happy.

How twisted is that? Skinny people have great lives and normal, average, or fat people have terrible lives. What the hell is that all about?

Even worse, these pictures seem to say that your worth is based on how skinny you are. That you cannot accept and love yourself, and others certainly won't accept and love you, unless you look like this.

I am here to tell you that no matter your size or shape, you matter. You matter a great deal and I wish you didn't have to deal with this kind of crap. I want you to know that if people want to treat you differently because you are skinny or fat, those are not the type of people you want to associate with (i know, easier said than done).

These photos bother me so much because they showcase only the outside. The motivation in these photos is not to live longer because you're healthy. It isn't that living a healthy lifestyle is good for you in any way. No, it's to look better on the outside because it's going to bring you happiness. That motivation isn't going to last because happiness is kind of fleeting. That sort of motivation is shallow and if you stick it out and attain your goal, I'll bet you notice something else about yourself that makes you unhappy.

These pictures actually make me angry. They make me sad for the millions of women (and men) who buy into this crap. It makes my heart hurt for the people who resort to eating disorders, or become obsessed with a number on the scale, or any number of other issues that comes along with this type of motivation. I'm not going to go on and on about what should motivate us. But I am going to say that these photos definitely shouldn't.  So please, stop repinning these and trumpeting these messages.

They're nothing but lies that will bring you down in the end. Please don't believe them.


Christine said...

I definitely understand your point that touting photos of thin women as the ultimate goal for everyone and the only definition as "fit" is wrong (and even damaging).

However, I do feel you contradict yourself a bit. You say "I want you to know that if people want to treat you differently because you are skinny or fat, those are not the type of people you want to associate with." However, you essentially mock the women in the pictures above by saying that there's no way that they are "natural" or "real" women - that either the pictures are photoshopped or they have gone through surgery. Frankly, I find this a bit offensive. Maybe these women are models that wish they could gain weight, but couldn't if they wanted to because of their metabolisms. These pictures don't scream "photoshopped!" or "enhanced!" to me. They are simply pictures of thin women (or, in the last picture, a thin woman quite obviously wearing a pushup bra). These women aren't considered the standard of sexy by everyone. These women are probably teased about being too thin, small busted, anorexic (even if they're not), not being "real women", etc. I am considered "thin" and I have big boobs. I did not get surgery. I also did not work to get thin. I also get teased about my body type.

I understand that it's concerning, unrealistic, unhealthy, etc that so many girls think they must aspire to be as thin as these models/pictures. Some people are naturally thin and have a hard time gaining weight. Some people are built heavier and would never look "thin" by normal standards no matter how much they tried. But life most certainly does not get happier upon reaching some magic weight number or magic size. That's just logic that it's sad that so many people can't see. There are plenty of miserable thin people and very happy overweight people.

I don't look at pintrest, and I haven't been exposed very much to constant images of "this is what a fit woman is!!" besides the usual every day stuff our culture throws at us, so it was interesting to get some perspective. :)

LadyLiz said...


Thanks for your input. I edited my post to make it more clear what I meant. I don't mean to be down on those women in the photos. What I'm against is the idea that those women are normative. I'm against the message the pictures are portraying. I hope my edits make that clear.