Recently I started following Darling Magazine. I purchased their latest edition and receive their daily emails. Some emails, similar to the hundreds of school emails I receive daily, I delete without scrolling too far down as they are not of much interest to me, but a few times a week I get intrigued and read through the entirety of the post. Today was one of those days.
Blare June wrote about the concept of #fitspo for Darling Magazine today. I have been thinking about fit-shaming versus and in relation to body-shaming for some time now. June’s perspective has raised another query for me, beyond body shaming whether it be an elite six-pack body or that which carries excess mass. If you do a quick google image search for “#fitspo” you are likely to find pictures like the one below as well as hundreds of women wearing bikini’s, tanned and shredded.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are to google image “body positive” you are likely to find hundreds of pictures of ‘obese’ women, sometimes wearing bikini’s that have a positive saying attached around loving their bodies no matter the size. Something like this…
I purposely chose not to use images that have faces of real women because I am not sure that bodies need to be put on display or judged. I do not deny, like many other women, I sometimes wish my body was different, I worry about gaining weight and feeling uncomfortable in my body and over the last year have been actively working towards a healthier and fitter body. But none of my body image thoughts stop me from doing the things I love like hiking, working out at a fairly intense gym where many compete in body building competitions, striving to reach my professional and academic goals, eating out with friends, studying at coffee shops over hot chocolate and a pastry, and oh yes, binging on my favourite milk chocolate covered digestive cookies.
I think the conversation we need to be having is about materialism. In a similar manner to houses that no longer have front porches and guests are welcomed by a garage that stores some of the most prized possessions of individuals such as their overly priced gas guzzling vehicles that are too wide for the inner-city roads they drive them along to pick up and drop of their children, our bodies have become materialized. We look at bodies and immediately associate them with the type of food one may be eating (and affording), the value one places in their appearance and thus some how their lives, we judge an individuals worth, friendship ability, and value through their appearance.
In this sense, I think the conversations we need to be having is not whether an individuals body or the clothing they use to cover it is harming our health but the way in which we engage with one another, care for one another, and support one another and the impact that relationships have on our health.
Recently, just last Friday, in one of my classes we had this conversation, very briefly, and all I could think about is if we were all stripped of our clothing and other materialistic goods such as jewellery, makeup, and other accessories, and all given the same coloured cloth piece to cover ourselves (like some communities in the world) would our willingness to engage with certain individuals shift? My gut reaction is YES! If you do not believe that you are “above me” because I sometimes wear Walmart clothing, perhaps you would be more likely to engage in conversation and see what I, as a human being and an intellectual, healthy, positive individual, has to share with you.
So, maybe social media needs to change its ways, maybe certain hashtags present concepts that mean various things to various individuals, but ultimately I think we need to move away from the outer appearances of things and people and start to see what is deeper and to appreciate the people we share this beautiful, inspiring, and giving world we live in.