I’m done. I'm just so over promoting, supporting, and doing the things I used to do.
For the past 9 years I’ve promoted and/or worked in the Diet and Supplement Industry. This industry is sometimes called the “the Fitness Industry” or the “Sports Nutrition Industry” or even the “Health and Wellness Industry” … all names that aren’t entirely accurate because they’re really not about health at all.
I’ve been a personal trainer, spokesmodel for an online supplement warehouse, fitness cover model, manager of a personal training studio, and sponsored “athlete” (which is funny because I never competed in a sport… I just looked like I did), just to name a few. I know how the industry works. I’ve been a part of the conversations at expos. I’ve read the requirements magazines expect of their models. I know how to market to women’s New Year’s resolutions. I’ve witnessed and participated in a lot.
But the older I get, the more diverse the women in my life become, the more personal stories I listen to, and the more and more I realize that I'm supporting and representing an industry that goes against everything I actually believe in.
- I believe in equality.
- I believe in diversity.
- I believe in protecting women's rights.
- I believe that everyone should be able to share their story and be HEARD.
- I believe thin privilege is real.
- I believe black lives matter.
- I believe in health at every size.
- I believe humans are more than the bodies they live in.
All of these beliefs have caused me to really struggle with how to continue working and representing an industry that is full-blown obsessed with idealizing one body type, instead of promoting actual good health (which, most of the time, looks nothing like that one body type). If you’re a leader in this industry and you’re confused by that last sentence, then you have an obligation to do your research and figure it out. #goodintentionsarenotenough
At the end of the day, this industry sells weight loss by way of dieting. And they use mostly thin, white bodies to do so. This all isn’t just narrow-minded, it’s harmful. Here’s what I’m talking about:
- In 2016, only 29% of magazine covers were of women of color, 0.09% were of women size 12 and above, and 0.07% were of transgender models.
A 2016 study found that body mass index (BMI) is not a reliable way to measure someone's health. They found that close to half of Americans who are considered overweight by their BMI are healthy, as are 19.8 million who are considered obese.
As of 2012, approximately 67% of American women are plus-size — size 14 or larger. Some studies put her between a 16 and 18. Yet, plus-size women account for, on average, 1 to 2% of the bodies represented in mainstream media. (source)
35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. And overweight girls are more likely than normal weight girls to engage in extreme dieting. (source)
Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet. (source)
95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years. (source)
35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders. (source)
Of American elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight. (source)
It’s not just the statistics above that piss me off.
As someone who has grown up in a house of mental illness and addiction, I've seen how doctors and experts have discriminated against loved ones based on their size. Instead of running the tests they would of if I came in with the same symptoms, they just say, "you need to lose weight.” This has resulted in years of more medicine, more symptoms, then more illness, and even more moments of that person going unheard.
As someone who has been a fitness model for 10 years, I've seen hundreds of women who "look" healthy but are actually fighting eating disorders and disordered eating but given TROPHIES or put on the cover of magazines.
As someone who sold a diet and workout plan for 2 years, I've seen how short term weight loss does not mean long-term weight loss, and definitely doesn't result in happiness, better health, or a higher self esteem.
All that to say....I'm done.
I'm done playing both sides.
I'm done promoting and supporting brands and fitness “experts” who are STILL turning their heads away from the harm caused by this industry, who fail to question the status quo, and who refuse to do hard things because it doesn't personally affect them.
Listen, I get it.
It's hard to change or turn your back on everything you used to do. This is especially true if it's making you money and paying your mortgage. When we stopped selling diets and stopped using our bodies as the “face of health,” our company went from paying 3 people a salary, to us both having to find side jobs. Financially it sucked. It still does. But knowing that we made a step in the right direction and run a company committed to authentic health, based on the best and developing scientific research, for the long-term benefit (mental, physical, emotional) of women's health, is worth whatever struggle we're experiencing in this transition.
So what now?
This is the question that we keep asking ourselves every day--so what now? How do we continue fighting for diversity, inclusiveness, compassion, and a comprehensive understanding of health in this industry? What's the best way to support our fellow sisters, friends, co-workers, activists, and athletes that have spent their entire lives being told they weren’t healthy, weren’t enough, needed to be fixed, needed to change? Do we leave? Do we stay and put up a fight? What does any of that look like?
Here’s what I can do right now.
There are a lot of days when those questions are so overwhelming to me that I freeze. I get stuck. I’m still learning, so “stuck” happens several times a week for me. But, I have found that there are a few questions that I can ask to hold myself accountable, and to help me do a little better each day. Here they are:
Am I promoting any sort of diet, meal plan, challenge?
Could my social media, pictures, blogs, and brand in general, be triggering for women suffering from an eating disorder (which isn't something just thin women struggle with), disordered eating, and/or body shame?
Am I promoting or supporting any brands that aren’t representing women of all sizes, race, and ability?
Am I actively aware of my own privilege so that I don’t forget to consider the perspectives and feelings of people who are different from me?
I may not have a clear game plan for what’s next for me, but I do know this--I’m done contributing to the harm of this industry. I’m opting OUT. I can’t play nice in both camps anymore. It’s making me an even crazier person (I’ll always be a bit crazy), and my heart, my head, my everything can’t take it anymore.
I wish I had a nicer, fancier, neat and tidier ending to this post, but I don’t. This is it. I’ve got one line on my to-do list for 2017: Listen, learn, do better.
Amanda Adams, CPT
International fitness cover model, certified personal trainer, and co-founder of Hot & Healthy Habits. 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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