So, I have noticed something.
This week Kourtney Kardashian posted a picture of herself in revealing sports gear and making the point that exercise helps her when she feels anxious.
This morning, I read a blog post about whether or not to wear underwear when running, you can read it here
We live in an environment of media saturation it often feels as if there are no limits to the things that we talk about on a global scale. The two items which I have referred to here are examples of how our ability to share how we feel in the moment can open up discussion on topics that are often swept under the carpet (or as in this case, just hidden under your clothes). However, only one of these items will actually make a difference to me and my fitness journey. And it wasn’t the sight of Kourtney Kardashian’s bared abs.
For me, the problem with the fitness discussion is that we are often too focused on the perfect model. I personally believe that the obsession with having a lean and muscular body has replaced that of being size 0. That is not a positive thing. I believe that the exact same hierarchies and body shaming that have been previously associated with being “skinny” have merely shifted to being “fit”.
It irritates me when I see slogans like “fit is the new thin”. This simply reinforces the idea that there is a particular way that you have to look, it’s just that you don’t have to look skinny anymore. Skinny is bad. Skinny is lazy and unadventurous. As is fat. And pale. And spotty. And having no bum. Or no breasts. Because even though you are expected to work out 6 days out of 7 and go hiking or surfing on your day off, yes, you will still be expected to retain your breasts.
This is where Kourtney Kardashian loses me. Like a lot of us, she clearly finds a workout to be a good way of relieving stress, many of us can relate to this. But the choice of displaying this on social media is not, for me, a positive reinforcement of how keeping your mind and body occupied can help you through a difficult time. Whether intentional or not, I think that posts like these are part of the problem. Kourtney’s life and looks are unrealistic to the vast majority of people. She is a beautiful woman who has the resources not only to have the best fitness equipment and training that money can buy, she can and has surgically altered her body to achieve the appearance that she desires. I’m absolutely not going to bash a woman for what she has been naturally blessed with, what she has worked hard for and what she has chosen. But I am going to suggest that if you are looking for inspiration, this isn’t it.
Celebrating our bodies is important and shouldn’t be competitive. How can we compete with others about the way we look when we are all completely unique? Seeing someone look incredible while staring back at me through a mirror when their world is falling apart doesn’t inspire me. It makes me feel bad for them and, I’d imagine if I was younger or less comfortable with myself, I would probably think to myself “god, if she looks like that during a really difficult time and after having children, what have I been doing wrong?” This, for me, is the negative side of the fitness discussion.
The post I read about wearing underwear during a run was a breath of fresh air. This is why I love blogging. The dialogue is opened out so that things that would be seen as taboo and private are laid out and discussed. And do you know what? I’ve been wearing underwear with my shorts like a fool! Today I went out without any and it was great! Discussing and sharing information like this is the antidote to body shaming because it acknowledges the body in a positive way.
All of us here are working toward a fitness goal for a reason and I’d imagine that a big proportion of that is to do with being happy. Running makes me happy (running with no undies makes me even happier), trying to have a better body than other people would just make me feel weird and mean. So let’s talk about fitness the way we should be, in an open and supportive way.
Because fit does not need to be the new thin.
Fit is simply about feeling good, whatever you look like.