Body image is a sensitive topic for many.
It’s no wonder that the Internet is full of articles on body acceptance, smack in the middle of that “lose 10 lbs in one week!”-jungle. There is so much pressure on being lean, looking fit, sexy, and whatever the flavor of the year is. And it’s not surprising, at least to me, because we all have the inner need to be accepted. It’s one of many human traits, that will always be with you, and all you can do is learn to manage it (by preferrably accepting “you” by yourself).
Gender equality in body acceptance.
Body image issues are not exclusive to women. Men experience body image pressure as well. Famous TV-series like Vampire Diaries, True Blood and movies like Magic Mike, and……fuck, man, have you ever seen NOT-shredded, muscular male actors on screen lately? You probably did, but they are a minority. Hugh Jackman has to shred as hell before each Wolverine movie. Wentworth Miller, Prison Break actor, wrote a post on Facebook after a picture of him being in a “less-than-expected”-shape got out of control on the internet. The Internet was right on top of it with all kinds of puns:
I’m not going to bother to bring up tons of examples where human beings are in a less-than-fit-shape and are being bashed for it.
Body image pressure or distorted view of human beings?
See, this is where shit gets on my tits too much. Two things do, actually. One of them is that our value as a person and a human being is being based on our bodies and what we do with it. I find myself guilty of this every now and then, and I’m not happy about it. This is something I, consistently, am trying to change. The point is, we all do this to some degree, some more than others. Nobody’s perfect (even though we can try to be). It’s the far-end of the spectrum I’m having a problem with, like the Wentworth-example. All kinds of jokes got passed around because he was no longer fit, with his sixpack and hot tattoos. “No longer sexy and fit? Fuck you. You’re dead to me.” and this shit has to stop.
This is where I admire a personal trainer in Norway, Camilla Lorentzen. She started a movement on social media with a hash tag #fitnok (“fit enough”, translated from norwegian). It’s a noble cause and a great idea to make the majority of population aware that they are good enough as they are. You want to be fit and feel great? Do that. You like a different lifestyle, perhaps less hard-core than lifting weights 7-days a week and munchig chick breast and broccoli? That’s great! It’s your own choice, as long as you feel great.
We all come in all forms of shapes, forms, shades and sizes. Our feeling good about ourselves should ideally not be rooted in our physical entity. Because, it’s just that: physical entity of something larger and more complex. We’re not the cars we drive, we’re drivers. But all we often see is the cars we drive. We don’t see the drivers. And that’s where the difference between body image pressure and the view of people is. Body image pressure vaporates as soon as we start seeing others as more than their bodies. The body is just a meat bag. Inside of it there is an entity: a personality. I’m talking metaphorically of course. I’m not sure if science has really detected the physical manifestation of a personality (perhaps as a collection of neurons, or even neuron clusters, you know, brain. I don’t know. I haven’t given it much thought). That’s where the focus should be: our personalities and it’s attributes. We should promote personalities, not the bodies. The body is negligible, it should not even be a part of the equation.
The problem with #fitnok (fit enough).
The idea is great, but it lacks definition. And that’s where it all went sideways. You can’t really control social media, nor can you control people. In the “fitnok”-wave, there was a “side wave”, if I may call it that, that posted pictures of themselves being overweight and tagging them with #fitnok. I think we all can agree that being overweight is not healthy and it’s a proven scientifically (increased risk of stroke, diabetes and joint-related problems, etc). You can’t be overweight and go #fitnok. Yeah, that’s right, shots fired. I went there. You really do not have to have low body fat percentage or raging muscles to be fit, or fit enough, you’re very much right. But you can’t be overweight and call yourself fit and promote that. It might be your volunteerly taken choice, it might be an underlying health issue, shit happens. We’re not perfect. We’re all human, that’s cool. The context here is “fit nok”: fit enough, with focus on “fit”. I’m sorry, you’re not fit if you’re overweight.
Fit: “In good health, especially because of regular physical exercise“.
It’s that simple. However, the main argument here is: does being fit or fit enough do anything with your value as a human being? The focus is on the body still. The irony here is that #fitnok-movement is trying to eliminate feelings of inadequecy because of the way the body looks, by focusing on the way the body looks. See what I’m getting at here? It’s fighting fire with fire, you can’t do that, unless you wish to spread the fire even more. What triggered this whole post is that Camilla’s Instagram feed got increasingly more and more focused on the body, which invites the question “Is fitnok really doing it’s intended job?”.
I think the generall public has seen her stomach pictures plenty of times, and got the message by now. It’s been in the norwegian media plenty of times as well. If you haven’t seen or read it yet, here are a few (in norwegian):
The first major issue I have with the #fitnok-consept is, as I’ve mentioned earlier, the focus on body, not the “self” (“The car, not the driver”, remember?). The second issue is the motive behind the endless belly-pictures. I wonder: “How many belly-pictures does it have to take to deliver the message?”. Why the recent increase in belly-picture-frequency or more skin in general? Have you ever seen Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy “before and after”-pictures to front a healthy choice? Body image before and after? Let that marinade for a few moments.
I really wish that we started looking at the driver, metaphorically speaking.
You can race the most beautiful, iconic, aesthetically pleasing car in the world, but if you’re a shit driver, it woun’t get you first across the finish line. I think it’s REALLY time to focus on the sence of “self”. Focus on values and our role in this world: how good we are as a co-human being, a friend, a sibling, a parent, someone’s significant other. Focus more on what we DO and HOW we do it, rather than sweating too much (pun not intended) about how we look. Promote personal qualities rather than looks. All day, any day. Do you have to LOOK fit? No. Do you need to BE fit? Yeah, simply because of the general health situation and that? That is in your own interest. Your health should be in your own interest, because you should be taking care of yourself. It is really irrelevant how you look, as long as you’re healthy. Health is important, not the way your body looks. Stay healthy, stay content, Internet.