Modern day body images are more than a little sickening. Through the media and peers, unrealistic expectations are set upon women regarding their appearance and weight. Branching out from that are several groups that are more “sympathetic” to a woman’s real needs and desires, including thinspiration groups, fat acceptance groups and fitness-centered groups.
I’ve seen a few “thinspiration” style forums and blogs before. Many feature some of the most wasted, emaciated bodies I have seen in my life. To me, the message behind the images is, “Look at that girl, she’s happy, thin, and perfect. Why aren’t you more like her?” I’m not terribly fond of the idea of being guilt-tripped into starving myself.
I’d say fat acceptance is a bit more popular on social networking sites like Facebook. Pretty regularly I see images comparing a thin model to a plus-sized model, typically with a caption stating that the larger girl is more beautiful or healthier than the thin girl. I think the phrase “fat acceptance” just sends too many mixed messages. Sure, there are lots of women who are proud to be plus-sized, but what about those who are unhappy with their body type and can’t change it, no matter what they do? In that case, the message is, “Well, you’ll never be anything different, but it’s okay.”
As far as “fit is the new skinny” goes, I think the message should be a bit reworded. Health and fitness are directly related to each other. If you work out, you’ll feel better about yourself. Sweating and exercise reduce stress, anxiety, poor body image, and can give you tons of energy. Sounds great, right? However, this affirmation just tells me, “You watched Fast Food Nation. You saw what fast food does to a body. That’s not sexy. Being lean and toned is what’s sexy.”
My conclusion after examining each of these popular affirmations is pretty much: screw what everyone else thinks. We’re not sheep. We don’t need some leader to shepherd us to “happiness” by ways of giving up on who we are in order to blend in with the rest of the world so we’re normal. Do something for yourself, not because it’s expected of you or because, well, that person looks so happy doing it.