How the Fitness Industry Silently Contributes to the Body Image Concerns of the General Public
much time do you spend on social media or watching media in general? No
doubt you spend quite a few hours daily, right? It happens. It’s become
our way of life now to spend time scrolling through our newsfeeds or
flipping through channels to find that one station that will help take
our minds on a new adventure. If you’re part of the fitness or health
industry you’re probably keen about related pages and you’ve no doubt
hit the “like” button and subscribed to a few of them.
marketing, whenever we target people who we want our messages to reach,
we always think of their interests. We think about the pages those
people liked and subscribed too, so it’s no wonder the tabs on the side
reflect what we view the most. What’s interesting is how so many of the
models in the fitness & health related content seem so similar.
After seeing so much of it, it’s made me think more about how that’s
contributed to the perception of one’s body image.
think about it for a moment; how does the typical image of what we
consider to be the fit person affect the general population? We know for
a fact that children and adults struggle with their body image, but are
those images causing some of the anxiety? If it’s not in the media it’s
all around us in the gyms or other spaces, the image of the body we
should have or the image that we must aspire to become. That image is
constantly linked to a sense of fitness. If you want to be fit, this is
how you need to look. If you aren’t this, then you may not be as fit as
you think you are.
think it causes a serious issue; people examine their bodies and think
this isn’t right enough; they aren’t “fit” because they aren’t muscular
enough. They don’t have the six-pack, the big bulging biceps, the cut
chest, the tiny waist, or other perky areas, so they must be doing
something wrong or need to step it up to achieve that image. What does
it do to a person to constantly have this perception imprinted on them?
To have images of this so-called fit person shown to them all the time?
could very well lead to anxiety over their body and it could mean some
negative behaviors and responses in order to try to fit into this mold.
What does a person need to do to look like the typical fitness model?
Many no doubt invest in supplements, pills, programs, or subscribe to
some, usually dangerous and counterproductive, method to try to shed the
pounds so their awesome six-pack can shine through. I’ve seen a number
of posts where men are painting abs on their bodies or injecting
material in their biceps and body to get that ideal look. Why? Why do
they need the large biceps and chiseled six-pack to feel like they’ve
achieved some level of fitness?
happened to fitness being a measure of your health and abilities to
perform as opposed to a particular look? As fitness professionals, we
know that someone can look the part but be unhealthy or the person looks
the part because they did something unhealthy to get there. The market
is full of detoxes, creams, and all manner of program or item to help
achieve this dream look, but most of these do little if anything to
actually help a person’s self-esteem, let alone impact their fitness
it destructive to see only one type of fitness model? Quite possibly,
and the fitness industry could have, I posit that they did, contributed
to some of the anxiety over body image that is running so rampant in our
society today. The way forward is to vary the image of the fit person.
This is by no means a call for promoting unhealthy habits, but leaders
in the industry haven’t exactly spoken out about the unsavory habits
that some use to achieve the look either.
the woman who runs marathons or just manages to exercise regularly and
eats properly still has a gut, but is healthy and yet left unseen, while
the latter, who may have attained their results through dangerous
means, is promoted, it raises some serious questions about our focus. Is
it the look or is it the health of the person, and are there ways to
include more people in the image of a fit person?
is by no means saying that everyone with a six-pack and bulging biceps
has become so through negative channels, people bust their tails all the
time to achieve their bodies. To those people I salute, because it’s no
easy task. However, understand that they can’t be the only standard for
fitness. This is certainly a call to expand what we deem as a
representation of fitness. There should be more images that we can
aspire to become, but above all we should aspire to be healthy. If the
image we purport of the fit person changes, anxiety around the body and
what we can achieve could very well change also.
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