There’s this new phenomenon happening on my Facebook page: sponsored posts that are essentially soft-porn disguised as “Fitness Inspiration”. Most of these have to do with disembodied butts….plump, rounded, and implanted, these sweaty cheeks don’t seem to belong to any face…and yet purport to be encouraging me to be a strong, physically-fit woman.
I have a problem with this.
There definitely seems to be a movement — at least in the circles that I hang out in — that says that strong is the new skinny. I’m all for that. I’ll never be a size 6 much less a size 2. But even with all the positive messaging that well-intentioned folk have tried to put out there — whether it’s a call to stop airbrushing models or that whole idea that women who are average size shouldn’t perhaps be called “plus size” — this whole strong vs skinny thing is still being stolen by certain media proponents to — you guessed it — over-sexualize and objectify women’s bodies.
Let me be clear. I am not a prude. I see absolute beauty in the human body and am not offended by the sight of it. I am, however, insulted when something attempts to steal what gives me strength.
This photo is the one that started it for me, primarily because it’s showing up as a “sponsored post” or “suggested page” every. single. day.
Let’s face it. This woman’s body is beautiful and strong, but that’s not what this picture is about. In fact, it’s not about the woman at all. This picture is about her butt. Nothing but butt.
I mean, really. Did you look at anything else?
What scares me about this “fitspiration” movement is that women are buying into it. I see women posting pictures like this all the time. Here’s one I ripped off a friend’s Facebook page:
While this one may actually be a real butt (as in, not implanted) it’s still aaaaalllll about the butt…and, er, other stuff. It implies that my only reason for working out is not to get strong, but to have a nice butt (et al) for your viewing pleasure. Even with the cute little words of encouragement, there’s nothing here about the mental fortitude or physical strength it takes to work your, well, butt off to run a fast mile or lift a truck tire.
There’s no end to the comments I could make about this one, so I ‘ll just select a few:
I don’t know what’s more insulting. That the only appropriate apparel for doing pull ups (my nemesis) is a string bikini and heels? That I should wear camo to make me think I’m tough while I am only really the object of your psuedo-lesbian fantasy? Or that I need a BFF to help me because despite my obviously ripped and strong body, I can’t seem to do a pull-up without her? I’ll give this one some kudos for actually showing a real, live face (hooray!) but must point out that it’s not without showing her greased up, over-extended butt.
Apparently there are whole Facebook pages dedicated to asses, and I’m not talking about your ex’s. I’m talking about pages like “Yeah, She Squats” which is all about pictures of disembodied butts. Just big butts floating all around the page like some sort of twisted Cottonelle nightmare, without the cute little cartoon bears. It’s not about women. It’s not about fitness. It’s about objectification.
I could go on and on. And on. There is no shortage of butt and boob pictures that I am supposed to find inspiring — as if I any amount of tire flipping, running or pullups could give me the bubble butt and boob look that only silicone can acheive. And while I will say that a good ab shot does often make me want to get off the couch, let me just make an official announcement right now to all you. Disembodied butts don’t really inspire me to workout.
I have to give Oakley props for their new ad campaign. I wanted to hate it, truth be told. When I first watched it, I couldn’t decide if they were making fun of women or not. But I realized that while they do show a woman making a total buffoon of herself, what they are actually making fun of is not so much women, but the way advertisers try to dumb us down and steal our strength. Here’s one of the ads from the campaign:
I like this ad. First, when we finally see the strong woman, she’s really working, she’s strong, not overly plump in all the inappropriate nether regions, and Praise God we see her face! There’s a look of determination there, a brain! One that’s telling her go further, go faster, don’t stop. I’d rather see a face like that than a bubble butt any day.
But you want to know what really inspires me? Pictures like these:
These women look real. Look — there’s a woman who’s not a size two, smiling! Maybe it’s because she’s actually wearing PANTS!!! And the one on the right, she’s got an actual face, with a look of determination, and O.M.G. I can’t really see her boobs or her butt. Amazing!
Or how about this real-life, inspirational story of my friend Jennifer Jacobs, who along with her Dad lost a ton of weight on Biggest Loser:
Jen is a beautiful young woman who did something amazing in her life — she took control, changed her life, and got strong.
So when I want to be inspired, I’ll look at pictures like these last few. If you want to look at those first few pictures, go for it. But just be warned: if those are your motivation, what you aspire to, you might just end up being a big ass.