*CONTENT WARNING: DISORDERED EATING
Hey girl, it's your fellow fitness model, fitspo instagram girl, just finished my workout let me post an ab selfie (actually I don't take selfies like above anymore. Another blog coming soon), Amanda Adams. I want to sit down with you and chat. I'm going to speak to you the same way I would speak to my best friend or my sister. If you read my blog, Why Your Social Media May Be Ruining Your Self-Confidence, then you'll know where this is coming from. So if you're ready for some real talk, a good ol' sister moment, then here we go!
Fact: It's almost 2017. And we have major, worse than ever before, problems with body image, self-esteem, comparing ourselves to others, eating disorders, and body dysmorphic disorder.
I think we can all look at the research, and then also just what we observe in ourselves and in conversations in daily life, and agree that this is true. Well then it would be ridiculous for you and I, as "fitness inspirations," to think we have zero effect on the negative body images that women have around the world. (Check out this article if you want to see some research stats to back that statement.)
We’d have to either have our heads buried in the sand, or just be the least attentive people on the planet, if we didn’t realize that the images we post on social media can actually lower women's self esteem. It would be crazy for us not to realize that for every woman we motivate, there’s a woman who just got discouraged because of the gap between what we finely craft and curate for the internet as our “perfect, fit life” and what that woman actually experiences in her everyday life.
I personally think about every this every single day, and I go back and forth constantly checking myself about if I’m being truly inspirational by showing the entire picture of my life, or if by not wanting you to know I’m a hot mess and some days not wanting to be vulnerable, that I’m putting out a photo that actually contributes to some women’s biggest struggles.
Do you think about that too? Because you should. If you're in this health and fitness industry for the same reason I'm in it (you know, to actually encourage and motivate ALL women to be healthy and love themselves) then the fact that what you’re doing could actually be making things worse… that should destroy your heart.
So what do we do? What do we (you know, the people with the one body type that is getting praised right now in the media, but is actually not what the majority of women look like) do?
I'm hoping you will join me and next time you post an image of your abs or workout selfie, that you remind women that YOU are ONE example of what healthy and fit looks like. You are NOT the ONLY example of what strong looks like. You are only ONE example of what an active woman looks like. You are NOT the only version of what hot, healthy, strong, and fit looks like.
And then go one step further by advocating for body diversity in the fitness industry.
You can do this in a big way if you have influence in the industry, but you can also do this in small ways by (1) publicly recognizing and praising other examples of healthy and fit behaviors from people who may not look like you, (2) encouraging people to follow other body types, and (3) being real with your audience about your struggles and your “less than picture perfect at all times” version of yourself, and (4) explaining what it really takes for you to maintain a model’s physique and refrain from putting that expectation on others.
Listen, I struggle daily with being a part of the solution and not the problem. Unfortunately, I’ve found the line between the two to be very thin. And although I may not have all the answers, I do know of a few small things that we can do to just start, and do something positive.
So if you’re a fitness model, “Instagram famous” or anyone’s “fitspo,” then I challenge you to get on board, start making some changes, and most importantly help start a discussion about body diversity in the fitness industry.
We’re better together, and change has to start somewhere. Why not us and why not now?
Amanda Adams, CPT
International fitness cover model, certified personal trainer, and co-founder of Hot & Healthy Habits. Without a whole lot of help, Amanda took a blog and her passion to make fitness and nutrition less confusing, and turned it into a thriving business with a social media following in the hundreds of thousands. Amanda is the Amy Poehler of the Hot & Healthy Habits team, and is a lover of margaritas, messy buns, and would rather use a GIF to explain herself!
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