Apparently, to be fit now, in the traditional sense, means seductively doing your upright row so that your (fake) boobs ooze out of your sports bra whilst your tight booty pops out of its short shorts. Working out with full make-up and your hair extensions in is a must. You may even be mistaken for someone who actually cares about how much they can lift, how long they can run for, striving to reach new goals and push their body beyond its physical and mental limits.
I scroll through social media everyday- when I’m walking to uni, or waiting for that annoying guy at the gym to get off the machine I want. We all know that what we see on sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook isn’t reality, we all know it can fill our minds with crap, yet that doesn’t stop us from reading it. Mere images can fill minds with negativity, hate, upset, resentment… just as they can inspire, motivate, make you laugh or smile. What we see every day can subconsciously, or rather will, influence our thought patterns, be it postively or negatively. I follow mostly fitness bloggers, gymers and foodie people on social media, and the more I look at these pages, the more annoyed I get at the portrayal and manipulation of health and fitness. Since when was health synonymous for too much butt cheak and cleavage? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was of the belief that exercise was done to make your body physicllay stronger, leaner, more flexible, and to mentally focus, destress, and release endorphins. Being an avid ‘gymer’ now can have the connotations of being too self-absorbed.
Because the gym is no longer just a place for increasing strength and endurance, for creating self-belief and self-confidence, or even overcoming illesses, say anorexia. It has become the home of a generation obsessed with working out to look ‘fit’, to gain self-worth through the opinion of others, to fit into the image society has created for us: have the perfect round butt, with skinny legs and big boobs, all in keeping with a toned but not ‘too muscular’ look. What’s worse is the arrogance that comes with it, and the sense off human hierarchy that comes with a ripped six pack and no body fat. How many times do you see girls look each other up and down in a judgemental manner at the gym, rather than congratulating them on their hard work and dedication, or helping each other with technique? Just as often as guys help out the tiny ectomorph rather than mocking and undermining him.
Social media in particular is feeding this rise of the gym cult, and with it images of women, who are neither realistic body goals nor are they the epitome of health and fitness. If we open our eyes to what we really see on our screens rather than mindlessly absorb the information we’re fed, we’ll realise that social media is not always an accurate representation of the truth, and must be used mindfully. Don’t be tricked by filter techniques, nifty camera work and the ‘oh so effortlessly’ way that her golden abs gleam with dewy perspiration… it probably took 50 shots and 50 sit ups to get the photo first. Even having recovered from anorexia now, I still sometimes find myself being warped by the media, and it makes me worry for those girls who believe everything they see, for those anorexic girls who are striving for something that’s unattainable. Let’s see instead some real and natural girls, just working out hard and looking insane for it! Girls of all athletic builds, runners or weight lifters, recovering anorexics or those trying to lose weight, let’s show social media that we don’t conform to what society has prescribed us, rather we define it. Let’s redefine the meaning of what it is to be fit. Less slutiness, more health and fitness, please.