I love fitness magazines. Ok, ok, I shamelessly love fitness magazines. I love their workout suggestions, recipe ideas, and focus on being fashionable without breaking the bank.
The one thing that I’ve been persistently bothered by, though, has been the models used in the photoshoots. I know it’s weird, but hear me out.
We all know that fashion models generally look totally emaciated — I still think it’d be awesome if a fashion model fessed up to living in impoverished, famine-stricken third-world countries in order to stay so unnaturally skinny (“Yeah, so as soon as Fashion Week is over, I go straight to Darfur…”) — but the models in fitness mags also look, in my opinion at least, unattainably thin.
They’re not horrifically thin like their counterparts on the runway in Paris, but I’d quite literally have to starve myself if I wanted to look like this:
In both these cases, the women pictured definitely aren’t emaciated — to the contrary, they look quite healthy — but they’re waaaay skinnier than I’ll ever be (barring a vacay to Somalia, diseases too scary to contemplate, or a close encounter with a tapeworm).
You see, I’m a curvy girl. My mom and all the women on her side of the family are teeny, naturally skinny types who have to try to put on weight; I, by contrast, inherited the hearty Irish constitution that comes from my dad’s side of the family. If my genetic destiny as a descendant of the Emerald Isle is to harvest potatoes and have a veritable football team of babies, well, I look the part.
But when I see these pictures in fitness magazines — which I read because I’m, y’know, really into health and fitness — it makes me think that bodies like this should be totally attainable if I just tried a little harder. The delusion continues: if I just ate more broccoli and did more lunges, I could look as fantastic as these women do!
The reality: I work out 5 days a week. I eat loads of produce and lean protein. I haven’t touched a donut (even a GF one) in years. I rarely eat junk food. I take excellent care of myself. And I will never, ever look like this.
One glance through a fitness magazine, and my inner critic used to be out of the gates like a prize horse at the Kentucky Derby. It would gallop on: You’re not doing enough lunges! You should look like one of these women, because you do all the things they tell you to do! What are you doing wrong? Cereal, that’s what. You eat way too much cereal. You’ll never look like this as long as you keep up that habit. You look like you’ve been busy popping out babies, and you haven’t even had kids yet. Time to ditch the cereal, Thunder Thighs.
In case it wasn’t painfully obvious, my inner critic is quite heinous.
I tried to quiet that inner critic by saying warm and fuzzy things like “I like myself just the way I am,” but that went nowhere fast. The epiphany I needed came when I realized that the only way I’m ever going to look like a fitness model is if I make my entire life revolve around it.
And, um…no. Just NO.
There are a bajillion other things I’d rather do with my time. There are people to hang out with, nerdy documentaries and sappy rom-coms to watch, dinners to cook, blog posts to write, phone calls to make to friends and family…the list goes on, and it’s saturated with things that would have to be neglected if I was going to dedicate my entire existence to achieving my dream body.
It just ain’t worth it.
Is it worth effort to exercise, eat well, and take care of myself in order to be the healthiest and strongest I can be? Absolutely. But is it worth it in order to slip into a size 2? Hell to the no.
Furthermore, I also realized that the vast majority of women don’t look like this. They just don’t. Even if they’re this thin, I’d bet the (proverbial) farm that they don’t have the uber-sculpted look that these women are sporting.
This is why I love the Dove Real Beauty campaign — it helps us see that normal women look, well, real. They certainly don’t look like Victoria’s Secret models, but they don’t look like fitness magazine models either.
Now if only the fitness mags could start featuring real women who look like the Dove ladies pictured here, I’d be one exceedingly happy girl.
*Steps off soapbox, thanks you all kindly for listening to my rant*