I have a rant that has been brewing for some time now. And I know that I am certainly not the only one who has these thoughts and feelings, but I am not bound into any sort of contract or agreement that would limit my expression of these feelings (ps. any sponsorship inquiries or publicity requests after this post..have your people contact my people. HA!!!)….WELL here goes!!
While I have grown to know, love, and respect many aspects of our “fitness industry” today, I have also learned to remove my blinders and see it for what it truly is.
The beautiful part about the industry lies within the core desire to empower people through the use of their own strength, mind, and body. Unfortunately, this “core” desire is sugarcoated, enveloped, and duct-taped with unattainable images, unrealistic expectations, and an immense desire for fame, success, and money.
So many people are willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top that their success usually comes at the expense of poor, unsuspecting victims around them. These unsuspecting victims are usually women. Women with poor body images and low self-worth. Women trying to run their household, paint a smile on, and attempt to love their children and husbands even though they don’t know how to love themselves. Women who want to feel strong and sexy and beautiful. Women who are willing to take any and all advice given to them and often get manipulated and taken advantage of throughout the process. Women like you and me.
Don’t get me wrong; I have an immense amount of respect for fitness competitors, athletes, and individuals involved in the industry. Our nation has put health on the backburner for far too long and the effects are insurmountable. My issue is in the reality of the way that people are often portrayed, in the broken promises made by supplement companies, and the unrealistic results and goals that people put on themselves in an attempt to look like a person that essentially doesn’t even exist. I don’t want to speak too much about the negativity in the industry, but I want to take one hot little second to rip the mask off the beast and uncover some of the “realities” of the industry for what they truly are.
First of all, let’s talk photo-shop. At any given time, you can find fitness inspiration or “fitspo” pictures on facebook, google, instagram, in magazines and advertisements, –the list goes on and on. What you may (or may not) realize is that the majority of these pictures are products of perfect lighting, awesome editing, and a stellar spray-tan. If you were to walk past these people on the street they would quite honestly look nothing like the way they are portrayed in the pictures that you have on your refrigerator next to the “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” quote. (Nailed that one, didn’t I?)
These images can be used as an excellent source of motivation just so long as you realize that
they are fake.
Professional photographers using million dollar equipment and the latest form of editing software hardly equates an average everyday athlete, no matter how many hours they spend in the gym or preparing food in the kitchen.
In fact, I think that often times professional pictures take away from the hard work that the individual has put in to look the way that they do. Any blemish, line, bump or dimple can easily be fixed with the click of a mouse. Why should you or I worry about spending countless hours on the stair mill if our flaws can be so easily fixed?
I’ll tell you why.
Because we are not training for a single perfect snapshot image taken under completely ideal circumstances.
WE ARE TRAINING FOR LIFE.
We are training for everyday, kids screaming, PMSing, water retaining, skipped workouts, crazy-beautiful-awful-perfect-life.
Set the photo-shopped athlete aside, and the false perception continues. Do you really think the 120 lb girl in the image you recently “pinned” to your “Workout Motivation” board is honestly doing jumping lunges with 130 pounds loaded on her back? Absolutely not. Those “weight plates” are plastic and filled with air. And keep in mind that just as quickly as cellulite can be erased from the back of someone’s legs, weight plates, boobs, and muscle definition can be painted in exchange. In the model’s defense, a photo-shoot isn’t a quick and simple thing. I wouldn’t want to spend 4 hours trying to nail the perfect shot with one million pounds on my back either. Take these images with a grain of salt and realize that the person you are looking at is a model being paid to create a predetermined image in a staged studio.
Let’s revisit our vulnerable and unsuspecting housewife, weeping softly to herself as she steps off the scale after receiving the slap in the face that she is 50 pounds heavier than she was before giving birth to her sweet baby girl. She knows at this moment that she HAS GOT to do something, and she hops online in an attempt to find an answer. She types in a quick search and sees an image of one of the above discussed fitness models, advertising a fat burner that promises results wrapped with a sleek, “toned” (hate that word), oiled-up bow.
No diet? No exercise? This lady is SOLD!
She continues to read an interview by said fitness model, and learns that she has never used a performance enhancing drug or steroid (which may or may not be true), loves chocolate, and likes to keep her workouts short and simple. BARF. Poor housewife knows that she has found her answer as she orders a lifetime supply of the fat burner that is subsequently removed from the shelves a week later for containing banned substances.
Not only is this a bad deal for this poor woman who just got totally punked by her fat burner, but this ad completely discounts all of the hard work that the model has put in to look the way she does. It promises unrealistic results with little to no effort.
RESULTS TAKE WORK. If it was easy, EVERYONE would do it. If you want to yield certain results, you are going to have to put the work in to get there.
At the same time, the fitness industry supplies jobs to millions of marketers, athletes, and people that are simply trying to financially provide for themselves and their families. You have to understand that many companies are willing to do whatever it takes to make a quick buck, and that the models in some of these ads don’t care what they are promoting if it means more exposure for them and a chance to get THAT MUCH CLOSER to reaching their dreams. I can’t say that I wouldn’t be tempted and flattered if I was approached by a company asking if I wanted to be a model in one of their shoots, and I will also admit that pictures of me have been used to represent supplements that I have used in the past.
The constant struggle lies within determining what is realistic and what is a waste of your time. If you are able to keep a good head on your shoulders while objectively looking at some of the garbage around you, it makes it much easier to sift through the negativity and find your place in this crazy industry.
Ultimately, this rant was created upon the basis that there are women all over the place literally KILLING THEMSELVES to look like an image that isn’t even real. I challenge you to look BEYOND the photoshop, the magazine ads, and the oiled-up bodies. Look beyond the spray tans and the painted weight rooms and the 5 hour photo-shoots to capture one single shot. Choose to find your motivation from all of the beautiful and inspiring people that surround you on a daily basis. The mother of three children that still makes it to the gym every morning, the man that is 200 pounds overweight but knows that he has to start somewhere. The girl on the weight floor that isn’t scared to throw iron around with the boys, or the cancer survivor that is thankful for every step she runs because it means she is alive.
THAT is motivating, and
THAT is REAL.
7 thoughts on “[UN]realistic expectations”
Love this post! Amen!
Crikey, that isn’t a rant, that is a well thought out article. So true, and I think the bit about it being for life is key…I look forward to hearing some more “rants” 🙂
Ask and ye shall receive…. BRING ON THE “RANTS” 🙂
This is so good, Macaile. The standards that the fitness and modern media industry sets for men and women is so sad… and unattainable. Thank you for sharing this. The photoshopped image is crazy… one might even go so far as to say cray cray. It’s sad that fit, able-bodied people (like myself) get called overweight, and when I weigh more on the scale (140) the doc tells me to lose weight. IT’s a joke… and so sad. I also know I’m not going to look like Jamie Eason by hitting the elliptical 3x per week. It’s crazy. I’m just thankful I have a husband who appreciates my body and doesn’t compare it to society… or I’d be in big, big trouble. Thank you again, girl. this is great.
I couldn’t agree more. It’s SO wonderful that you have someone in your life who loves YOU for YOU and sees your beauty from the inside out. Unfortunately, so many women don’t have someone who loves them unconditionally, and their biggest critic lies between their own two ears. It breaks my heart when I see someone striving to achieve perfection that only photoshop could create. In fact, I think it is sad that some people would call a flawless person “perfect.” I think that imperfections are beautiful, flaws make someone REAL, and being REAL is beautiful. I have so much respect for people in the industry, but I struggle with the image that is so often portrayed as a “gold standard” for what women should look like.
I can’t tell you how many times I have played the number game in my mind and told myself I’m not small enough/skinny enough/etc. etc. etc. It’s also absurd to base someone’s health off of a simple numerical computation when muscle and fat both take up mass that isn’t taken into account when determining someone’s BMI. Shoot, Jamie Eason would probably be considered “overweight” if all you looked at was her height and weight.
Ultimately, I understand that this is a money-making industry and we will forever be surrounded by unattainable images. I just hope that women can begin to see these “standards” for what the are and realize that true beauty lies within.
You’re spot on again. Flaws MAKE us beautiful! To be honest, if God wanted us to all be flawless, he would have made us that way 🙂
Thank you so much for this post. I struggle with these thoughts every day. Going to the gym and feeling good about what I’m doing, but slipping into that thought process when I upload progress pictures thinking, why don’t I look like that perfect model in my fitspo pics yet? Meanwhile forgetting about all the progress I’ve made and the incredible strength gains for someone who was a stick. I have to keep reminding myself, my little girls see me everyday going to the gym and eating well. They keep asking when they can go to the gym with me. That I’m inspiring the next generation to be healthy is more important than that unrealistic ideal.