The new skinny?
In the past year there's been a shift in the way the media, celebrities, trainers, and studios are framing conversations around body image and fitness. Once en vogue, "skinny" is now a four letter word, a la "diet," and instead it's all about being strong. The thing is, I'm not sure anything has really changed. Yes, there are studios, personalities, and media outlets that have definitely made changes and I applaud them, but on the whole, I feel like the images I see and articles I read have just substituted one s-word for another.
From challenges to recipes that promise indulgence while still being good for you to workouts being advertised by how many calories the average class-goer will burn, the underlying message still seems to be: lose weight by doing this. The intention is good, challenges allow people to set goals and for many such specifics are a powerful motivator, recipes show people that it's not all or nothing but a balance and that changing one's eating habits doesn't mean giving up everything delicious, but calories burned? This one I really think should go away. I know some people use calories in their fitness journey, but to say that a class will burn X number of calories puts the emphasis in the exact wrong place, not to mention that everyone is coming in with such different body compositions that the numbers just don't mean much for the majority. As well meaning as such articles and programs are, where do we draw the line? When a challenge ends, who helps people determine the right amount of classes, squats, time to hold a plank, etc. for them? When meals are described with words like "cheat," it automatically paints them as bad and pulls on the complex relationship that on some level everyone has with food, particularly now when you could drive yourself nuts trying to find whole foods that are antibiotic free, pesticide free, have not been packed with fillers or substituted along the supply chain, are eco-friendly, and sustainably and ethically produced. (My head is spinning too. A garden is probably the best bet, but then you know there would be a study on where the seeds came from. Pick and choose your battles and do the best you can I say.)
When celebrities are interviewed or studios and trainers use testimonials for promotion, there is often an, "I lost X pounds/inches" component. On the one hand, this is not surprising at all. There is a demand for this information and it's what sells. Business is business. But wouldn't it be awesome if there was also discussion about how Mr. X can now run around with his son without having to stop every few minutes or an anecdote from Ms. Y in which she tells us that the clerk at the store offered to carry her bags but she didn't need help because she has gotten so much stronger.
I'm not sure what the answer is and it may not be solvable. Maybe I'm being impatient and change will come in time or maybe it's here and I'm missing it? Would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments.