Searching "fitspo" online will likely bring up many pictures of women with flat stomachs clutching a protein shake. For years, this was the image I aspired to. But no matter how much I exercised and how little I ate, I could not achieve the look that in my mind defined fit. There's nothing wrong with looking like this; the issue is thinking that this shape is the only way to be healthy.
Typical fitspo postsfitandskinny.tumblr.com
Over the years, I've learned that our bodies are built differently. There are so many genetic factors at play, so what is healthy for you isn't necessarily going to be healthy for someone else. Your "healthy weight" is based on your height and how much muscle you have. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if even if you weigh more than someone else, you may actually be leaner. Your favorite kind of workout can also determine your body build. A swimmer's body build will be different from a runner or weight-lifter.
Fitness clothes and products are often advertised featuring this lean, skinny image. The idea is to show people the ideal, giving them the image of the goal they want to achieve. However, many people are on a different step in their progress: some are just starting out, others have been active for years. Showing people of different builds and different phases of their journey is important.
Have you ever been nervous to try something because you're afraid of being judged? People report that they avoid the gym and other fitness ventures purely because they don't look the part. Experts call this gym anxiety, a feeling fueled by the fear of being judged or feeling like they don't belong. This is why it's important to show diverse bodies! Athletes come in all shapes and sizes.
I was very excited to see an e-mail from Target today, promoting their JoyLab line. The e-mail advert shows women of diverse body shapes in the workout gear. On Target's website, there are even more pictures showing different bodies: lean, curvy, and muscular.
Old Navy has also recently released an Instagram ad campaign showing different women in their exercise gear. Compare this to Athleta. While Athleta has been applauded for also featuring people of mature ages in their advertising, only one body shape is represented here.
For a number of years now we have been leading the charge to change the relationships we have with movement, fitness, and physical activity. Every day on social media we are exposed to body transformation challenges, detoxes, and the traditional barrage of 'you suck because you don't look like this' marketing. But everyone deserves to take really good care of our bodies, minds, and souls. By representing diverse people in marketing, you can reach the people who have felt alienated and misrepresented for years. Just because your body doesn't fit the one mold that companies have determined for us, it doesn't mean you aren't healthy or strong.