By Madeline Brady, Regular ContributorJune 30, 2015
I recently stumbled upon a website and to say it bothered me would be an understatement. It’s one of those “Thinspiration” pages on Tumblr that has photos of ultra-thin models wearing bikinis or lacy underwear with slogans like “If you want it… Commit to it” and “Being fat sucks worse than working out ever will” pasted across them. I just… I can’t.
Frankly, I’m pretty bothered by this “thinspiration” business in general. Not just because it embraces a standard of beauty that excludes anyone who isn’t a super-skinny, white, blonde supermodel, but because it promotes body comparison between women as a form of motivation.
I understand that these women are traditionally beautiful, like many other images of women on the internet, but they are unrealistic representations of what most healthy women actually look like. I feel like all these images do is promote an unrealistic, unhealthy body image and make many women feel terrible that they will never be able to “achieve” this sort of body.
Self-loathing is a serious self-esteem issue, not a work out plan.
Glorifying these images doesn’t necessarily motivate people to hit the gym more often or swap a salad for a burger, either; they push women and girls to use unhealthy methods of weight loss. They are told that if they “work for it” enough, they will get results that make them look like these women, but it simply isn’t true. Fit and healthy women come in all shapes and sizes, most not fitting this mold. And with 8 million people in America suffering from eating disorders, these unfair comparisons only perpetuate the United States’ mentality that thinness equals happiness.
My other problem with these slogans and photos is that they focus a lot on external validation. To be fair, a few of them actually promote positive body image, such as “you control your body” and “I will be confident naked.” But others focus on the shallow idea that weight loss equals love, validation, and acceptance. Slogans like “To show him that letting me go for a thinner girl was the wrong decision” send the wrong message: that your weight loss will bring you happiness through someone else’s validation. If someone left you because you weren’t thin enough for them, that doesn’t seem like the kind of person you want to be with anyway! Plus, that kind of motivation gets old fast.
Working out is hard, anyone will tell you that. So why would I do it for anyone other than me?
Losing weight is never easy and for many people’s health, it is necessary. But weight loss shouldn’t lead to self-loathing, self-deprecation, or unhealthy comparison. Losing weight should be a strengthening and empowering experience, something done for the betterment of the body and spirit and filled with support, positivity, and love for your self.
Aren’t we better than blogs like this?!
How can we create a positive inspiration to work-out? What inspires you to work-out? What's your favorite part about your body? Tell us below!
Madeline Brady is a soon-to-be recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College where she majored in English and Theater. She is looking forward to joining the real world, learning how to cook more than cereal, and living abroad after graduation. Her passions include running, music, feminism, and spending way too much time on Instagram.
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