Sunday, August 17, 2014

Supersize vs. Superskinny and the "Fitspo" Phenomenon

     Though the world has managed to arise to such a high level of technological advancement, so many members of first-world countries remain unable to adequately feed themselves. With the amount of food available to consumers in Great Britain and The United States, it would seem unfathomable that any person with the means to buy sustenance would find herself at a heightened risk of death due to her diet. Nevertheless, a massive statistic of American and British people have an unhealthy and potentially life-threatening relationship with food. Recently, I've been binge-watching a British television series, Supersize vs. Superskinny, on YouTube, and I love how it targets not solely the problems with being overweight, but equally emphasizes the issues of being underweight. The dietitians on the show do a good job of explaining the health-related cons rather than the superficial, aesthetic cons which dominate other wellness shows.
     I felt especially impacted by the "superskinny" characters. Aesthetically, their body types mirror the girls in magazines and "fitspo" tumblr posts. Jessi Keenland's article "5 Reasons Why Fitspo Sucks" defines fitspo as "a popular buzzword short for fitness inspiration, and it's used to inspire and motivate people to be fit and healthy. It usually involves photos of super fit, lean women... or women doing awesome yoga poses in beautiful places. It's kind of like Thinspiration's healthier and happier big sister. For those of you who aren't familiar with thinspiration, it's typically glamorized photos of dangerously thin girls, often passed as willpower motivation for anorexics." These are girls with coveted "thigh gaps" and "flat stomachs." In contrast to mainstream media's aesthetic attitude toward health, I appreciate how the dietitians on Supersize vs. Superskinny proclaimed, against all ads, that "skinny  healthy."

     Here is why I think fitspo is dumb.

     You cannot tell how healthy a person is based on one's appearance. 
    Yes, there are physical signs of health. I am not denying that signs such as brittle hair and insanely dark under-eye circles could point toward a health-related issue. However, skinny  healthy. You cannot definitively tell from a person's appearance whether she eats a balanced diet to achieve their toned physique or whether she starves herself so that her mediocre abs show through a fat-less layer of skin.
      Our image-induced culture is pushing girls toward the idea that skinny = healthy, an analogy that is not necessarily true. There is no mold for a healthy person. Healthy people come in all shapes and sizes. Thigh gaps are rarely healthy, and many girls cannot accept that fact that their bone structure does not healthily allow the "tumblr girl look."

         Instead of pushing toward a "fit look," I wish fitspo would abolish these "skinny" ideals and aim toward "healthy" ideals instead. There should be more education about how to nourish a body than shape it.
          And let's get real about the fitspo posts that are just images of fruits and juices. I am not a nutritionist, but I do not think a body can live on fruits alone. Sure, you achieve your daily fruit serving a crap ton of vitamins, fiber, and anti-oxidants (yay!) ...but proteins, omega-3's! BRAIN FOODS!!! I'm kind of worried that if so many girl's asses start shrinking because of fitspo, their brains will end up doing the same.

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