Thursday, December 8, 2011


In the last week I've had two people provide me with some blog material. In a strange coincidence, they are extremely related and extremely disturbing.

The first topic was sent to me by my friend Brita early in the week. She came across this website, Pinterest, and found the fitness board to be a bit fishy. She is a recent convert to the Tao of Lifting, and immediately recognized this message board as a place promoting the idea of being skinny for the sake of being skinny. The majority of the topics "pinned" to this board suggest that you should be skinny for the stares/jealousy, being skinny to look like "her", as well as providing fitness information suggesting "toning" of arms and butt. There are very few, if any, references to the fact that toning is a myth, and that lifting heavy shit is the fastest and most effective way to the body that you want. All in all, I think this site sends a poor message. It's just regurgitating the fitness propaganda that Oxygen, Self and Shape have been pushing out for years. I'd love to see this site using some more relevant information. However, I understand the "motivational"aspect of the board, and for some people, bad exercise is better than no exercise. I would never send anybody I know to this site for fitness information, but at least the messages tend to stay motivational and positive. 

Fitness: Doing it right.
Then, last night during a session, one of my clients tipped me off to something called "thinspiration". He came across it somehow on tumblr and found it unsettling enough to mention it while we were working out. He said it consisted mostly of pictures of really skinny women, and motivational phrases attached to them. There were lots of "diet tricks" that told you to drink lots of water to feel full. I came home, checked it and was SHOCKED at what I found.

I immediately noticed something wasn't right. Phrases such as "do it for the thigh gap", "so that you can be light enough for someone to pick you up." Diet plans suggesting you partition out 3 apples to make up 6 small meals for the day. Pictures, to make you envious, of a woman's back with no shirt, and very visible shoulder blades.

I couldn't help but think about eating disorders. How this seemed to be an unhealthy obsession with being skinny and frail. I noticed the phrase "pro-ana" several times, and had absolutely no idea what it meant. A quick searched revealed that it stood for "pro-anorexia". Many of these sites were celebrating anorexia as a "lifestyle choice" rather than an illness. Several sites seem to be a non-judgemental place for people to discuss their illness, but it seems that those are the exception and not the rule.

Without realizing it, I've created a little bubble for myself. I'm so wrapped up in the strength and conditioning world, that I lost sight of the grand "fitness" picture. I somehow managed to forget that these illnesses still exist. This sort of stuff should be a serious wake up call to the industry, to start being really strict about the types of information that gets put out there. We need to start celebrating the women in the industry that are sending out positive messages about being fit, strong and beautiful.

Nia Shanks
Leigh Peele
Jen Comas Keck
Neghar Foonooni

Please, go lift something heavy. Be happy and be healthy.

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