With more and more fitness bloggers popping up every single day and preaching messages of building more muscle, being active and body confident, it seems that men and women should be feeling empowered by this. However, is this the case? Or are these pro-fitness messages shaming those who do not devote their time to their fitness? The world of the gym, muscularity and bodily power is very topical at the moment but whether it is having a positive or negative effect remains to be seen.
Kayla Itsines, Sara Phuto, Tiffany Brien are the names of just a few of the fitness bloggers we may be familiar with. These women are well known for their presence on Instagram and posting photos of their bodies, food, flaws, highs and lows. However, every single post fitness bloggers put online relates to fitness and how this makes them feel empowered, as they try and encourage others to take their fitness seriously and use it to build up their confidence. Many of the bloggers have had issues relating to their own body confidence and some have struggled with eating disorders.
By using Instagram as a platform to show their recovery and how they have become stronger and more confident through fitness can be inspiring. Finding a way to push past their own negativity can show others that there are ways to combat low self-esteem. Many people are diagnosed with eating disorders; with the pressure for a perfect body from all forms of the media, low self-confidence is an ever-increasing problem. Fitness bloggers are positive in showing ways we can take control of our bodies and be proud of them and combat the “thin is better” message that controls much of our society. These bloggers equally show their flaws from their body rolls to their ‘no make-up’ selfies to their stretch marks. No one is perfect is their message.
That being said, other pictures of them with almost perfectly toned stomachs, arms, legs and bums do not shout imperfection at all. They may have days where their stomachs are slightly more bloated or when the light shows their heavily stretch-marked legs but these photos of their imperfections are staged, as much as their fitness photos. They want to remind us we have the ability and freedom, like them, to be flawed. However, with their photos of their high levels of fitness, their imperfections seem minor in comparison. This sets a benchmark for us. They say we can be flawed but only if we are fit? Are we then being shamed into thinking we should be fit and can only be imperfect if we have our fitness to fall back on?
How realistic is their level of fitness? The everyday man and woman works five days a week from 9-5pm, possibly in a relationship, has friends to catch up with and a house to manage with bills and cleaning. Does this person have the time to strive towards the fitness goals that the bloggers do? To be fit and healthy is important but it does not necessarily need to consist of hours of muscle workshops a week. Posting pictures of muscles gained from extreme workouts can make others feel inadequate about the lack of muscle mass they have. If someone has been running around after their two kids all week, caught up with friends over the weekend and cleaned the house, then they shouldn’t be made to feel bad about their lower levels of fitness compared to those that fitness bloggers possess. Everyone’s life is different and they can only achieve a certain level of fitness according to their schedules.
Of course, there are those incredible people who can manage very hectic schedules and somehow run marathons but they are the extraordinary exceptions and not the rule. As individuals, we have our own priorities. Fitness bloggers who claim that fitness is the main way we can feel body confident are wrong. If you are not toned, regularly eat pizza and chocolate and do not own a gym membership, you can still feel happy with your body. In addition, body confidence can come from many places and should not be linked directly to your outer appearance.
You can feel proud of your body because it’s yours and it’s unique. You can feel proud of your body because it gets you through everyday – whether that’s running back and forth between lectures, going to work, catching up with friends or being able to do sport. Exercise is important to keeping you healthy but to realise that we can’t all be body builders is vital. Although fitness bloggers may say they are empowering people to take control of their own bodies and power from these through creating muscle and being über-fit, they are ignoring that we are already in control and empowered by our bodies in our own ways. Our bodies are pretty wonderful in keeping us going and getting us through busy days and the hectic lives we lead, and we should be body-confident for that alone and how we control our bodies in that respect.
By fitness bloggers posting pictures of “their bodily perfection”, they seem to be setting new standards of what we should look like but in fact, you should make your own standards rather that busting your guts in the gym thinking that is the only way to induce body-confidence. Everyone’s body needs to serve them for what they need to do and the lives they lead. Body confidence comes from within, rather than how fitness bloggers say we should lead our lives.