In recent years, there has been a soaring interest in ‘fitspiration’. People, women in particular, used to strive for thinness, to get the look of the model-like waifs that we are told is the ideal mould. However, this seems to be changing; perhaps in part because of the Olympics showing another, less waif-like kind of ideal – the fat free, muscle covered body epitomised athletes like Jessica Ennis. Now, the strive for bodily perfection can affect anyone, but for the purposes of this article, I will be examining the trend of ‘fitspiration’ surrounding women.
I know a lot of women who are searching for that elusive perfect body. They will say things like, ‘I’m not trying to be thin, just fit.’ I also used to be one of those women; trying to lose a significant amount of body fat, feeling imperfect without my abs shining through. Scroll through instagram or facebook on any given day, and these kinds of words and images will litter your newsfeed. There are many fitness models, such as Muffintopless, who I follow myself – these women tend to be highly dedicated to clean eating and exercising regularly, and of course that is a valid choice they are welcome to make. It’s fantastic that these women know what makes them happy, and are actively striving for their own happiness.
But I am writing this to appeal to others like me – those who love exercise, but don’t necessarily love the strict issue with food that ‘fitspiration’ bloggers so often associate with it. It’s okay to enjoy and strive for fitness, but not feel obligated to diet.
There has been a recent surge in what the fitness community are calling ‘fathletes’. Plus sized women who enjoy exercise, but are continuously coming under scrutiny for being fat. The treatment of these women show the stigma that surrounds overweight women – that the concept of being fat and fit is an inherently contradictory one. ‘Fatheletes’ show this is not the case; that people can do whatever they like. You can run 10km, and still eat cake. Or, like me, you can lift heavy weights but not only eat chicken and broccoli five times a day.
I love the gym, I love powerlifting. I love being strong and having muscle. However, I also love beer, sweets and belly pork. I won’t be made to feel guilty for being a weight lifter but not having a low body fat percentage. I will probably never have a six pack showing through, and that’s okay. My happiness is what’s most important to me, and I am not going to eat something I do not want to, just because that’s what’s expected of me in my sport. Exercise is supposed to make people feel good about themselves, working hard to acquire a new skill and releasing endorphins.
So I am reaching out to other people who are made to feel guilty by the fitness community for enjoying exercise, but not cutting out cake. You don’t have to be lean.