The most recent edition of Women’s Health was delivered to my house a few weeks ago featuring the beautiful and fit image of pop star Pink on the cover. I always flip straight to the fitness section, eager to see the workout they’ve created for the month and fitness tips. And, as always, I noticed that 100% of the fitness models depicted in this section were either tall and gazelle-like or totally thin and jacked. I’m not being hyperbolic – Every. Single. One.
It reminds me of the time in my mid-20s, reading Women’s Health magazine while on the toilet, and having a visceral reaction to the images within the magazine. In fact, the reaction prompted me to write my first blog ever! I wrote about the Fitness Industrial Complex and the images it puts out: incredibly thin, tight and toned women, wearing only sports bras, and somehow looking great while working out. And here we are, 15 years later, being exposed to the same imaging.
Early in my career as a fitness trainer, I saw a trend in media (and therefore the general population) that being a fit person required strict food parameters, a stringent workout regimen, and circus-like capabilities in sunny locations – I mean, who hasn’t seen an image like that a million times in relation to fitness??
I became aware that our mission in Comfy Fitness of creating the belief in our society that wellness and fitness is available to anyone who wants it, in every tax bracket, in all shapes and sizes was going to be an uphill battle.
When we see people that look like us in certain roles, activities and spaces, they serve as avatars, helping us believe that we belong. Without representation, feeling comfortable or welcome is harder to come by, and sometimes not available.
So why doesn’t the Fitness Industrial Complex use a variety of bodies and looks?
Unfortunately, it’s because the ultimate goal of business, particularly big business, is to sell you shit, including the belief that you need to look a certain way. And while representation might help people feel like they belong in fitness, it’s this picture of what is continuously referred to as the ideal body that has people buying more products, signing up for fancy gym memberships, and joining fads, believing what they already have is not enough.
Think about it: if everywhere you look, fit and healthy is portrayed as the vast majority of stock images I find when I search “fitness” on Unsplash, and you can’t physically get there for whatever reason, it’s understandable that you’d feel like you either don’t belong there, will never reach a state of being ‘fit’, or are not buying the right products, equipment, or membership.
It’s one of the reasons Comfy Fitness ditched using stock images on our website and had a photo shoot using our actual clients: we literally could not find enough variety of bodies and sizes represented doing fitness in stock photos to fill our website!
Through our online classes and courses, we are on a mission to tear down this narrative that being fit looks a particular way and means something unattainable for you. One of the ways we do that is through our Comfy Lifestyle 12 week course which starts on March 22, 2023. I am offering 20% off to any Women Belong member who wants to join us in this upcoming cohort and finally create a joyful lifestyle that reaches fitness and health goals PLUS has staying power. Just enter WBSpring2023 at checkout. Check for other current Comfy Fitness Deals here.
Content provided by Women Belong member Kira Macoun