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Female Fitness Standards: Should Fitness Models Exist?

It probably goes without saying, but, the fitness industry is kind of a mess. When I was growing up I remember fitness being kind of a low-key thing, of course, that was before social media. The industry has become this playground for all the super fit and they bully the ones that aren’t strong enough for the monkey bars.

It’s so weird because, used to, men were the most intimidating part of the gym experience (still can be). However, now, women are just as bad. It really makes me wonder about female fitness standards and everything we see online and social media. Will women every be able to win?

Worse than Super Models?super-model-female-fitness-standards

So, this probably sounds a little out there, and I am probably out of my lane because I have never been a model of any kind. BUT, we’ve all heard about the tight standards placed on models, the strict diets, the slim figures etc. What concerns me about fitness models is that they are promoting a “lifestyle” and making it seem achievable. That’s a big problem.

Most of us can probably see a Victoria Secrets model and know that we will likely never look like that. This can lead to some disappointment with our appearance but I’d say a lot of us can move on, knowing that that look isn’t achievable for us. However, with fitness and Instagram models they are actually saying that you CAN look like them (and many have a handy e-book to help you a long the way).

First of all, I can guarantee most of them don’t look the way they do because of an e-book. They have probably spent years and years building muscle and meticulously monitoring their diet. Please don’t buy their 6 week e-book and think you will look like them.

The Illusion of Perfection

The reason I am so serious about this topic is because I too have fallen prey to the female fitness standards mess. You need to gain muscle in your legs and glutes ( but don’t get too big). Tighten and flatten your stomach and get the nice outer ab lines (but don’t get an actual 6-pack. gross). Get nice toned arms, get rid of those “bat wings” (don’t get actual muscle tho… that’s manly. Might as well have an Adams apple). Have nice, big, round boobs, because we want to be sure you’re feminine (but don’t get implants). The list goes on. You’ve probably heard different versions of this.

The thing is, there’s not a one size fits all. There’s not one ideal of beauty. These standards, especially the female fitness standards are outrageously ridiculous.

Why do we think it’s OK to pick and analyze every single aspect of the human body? Honestly, I am kind of mad there’s even such a thing as a “fitness model” or “female fitness standards.” It makes me pose the question “should there even be fitness models?”

Should Fitness Models Exist?

Obviously, I am talking about the idea of fitness modeling, not the actual people. Many men and women make their income though fitness modeling and I wouldn’t want to take away their means of financial support, but, here’s the thing – modeling is very age restrictive so I hope they have a back up plan. Back to the point.

Let’s think about what a fitness model does. They aren’t like traditional models that showcase clothing and try to make clothes look more attractive (although, yes, fashion models are usually slim and it is an indirect message that thinness makes clothing look “better”). Fitness models are modeling their literal body saying that this is “fitness.” When I looked up the definition of a “model” I got a little confused because the technical definition is someone who displays clothing. female-fitness-standards

Not sure if you’ve noticed but fitness models rarely wear what I would consider… clothing… (no hate, just an observation). When I read further I realized that this definition is what actually encompasses fitness models,

  • Someone or something that is an extremely good example of its type ( from the Cambridge Dictionary)

You might not realize how mind blowing this is but when I made that connection, a light bulb went off in my head. Oh my gosh. It all makes sense! These models are literally posing in these pictures and saying “this is fitness, this is health, this is a healthy lifestyle and you can look like me, buy my e-book.”

Hold on. What? No. No wonder so many people fall off the health and fitness wagon when they feel like that should be their end goal because the models are “an extremely good example of their type.”

Let me clear this up, no they aren’t. That is someone who exercises as their job not for health. Although, not mutually exclusive, there is a big difference. Fitness models either dedicate their whole life to look the way they do or they are a unicorn.

This isn’t some “body positive” rant, this is life, people. I want to see some people embracing some lower belly squish and not only call it “body positivity” but let’s call it fitness! We can be fit too without having shredded abs all rubbed down with oil! This isn’t bitterness talking because I don’t have abs or a tight stomach, this is me shedding light on a dangerous standard.

A GOOD example of fitness and health (in my opinion) is someone who; is well-rounded, works out to maintain their health, spends time with their family and friends, eats a balanced diet where they get their needed nutrients but also enjoys the foods they love and is at a weight where they feel confident and attractive to themselves.

If you want to be shredded then by all means do it but please don’t call that fitness or even health JUST because you have muscles. There’s more to health than that.

Time to Cool Down

That got a little heated, but this is a big deal. I’ve taken a few breaths and can see straight again. Here’s what it all boils down to and what I hope you can take away from this,

  • Fitness models are not a realistic standard for a lifestyle
  • E-books probably won’t get you to where you want to be
  • Female fitness standards only offer the outrageous illusion of perfection
  • Fitness models are NOT the best example of health and fitness

Embracing our bodies, our stretchmarks, our soft-spots etc, doesn’t have to be body positively, it can also be fitness, we can be healthy and still have those things….hey…maybe I should be a fitness model…

Much love,

Savannah

6 Comments

  • Mecyll

    For someone with an existing eating disorder, this should have been a campaign. The idealization of thinness is worse, especially for young minds. In my case, I thought of slimming because of that and got into this trap, which is really regrettable. I’m just hoping it wouldn’t be that worse and overpower me. Thank you for the post. Personally, fitness models should be on the runway, not those skinny ones.

    Cheers,

    Mecyll

    • Savannah

      Hey Mecyll! That really is such an interesting perspective. Thank you for sharing your struggles with how thinness has impacted your life. Thankfully more and more people are becoming aware of the danger of these kind of standards. I wish you the best!

  • Derek

    Savannah,

    You are hitting some points bang on the head. I actually do know Mr Malaysia (Middle Weight) Steven James Mark, in all honestly – never..I mean NEVER looks like he does in the photos you might see.

    He only looks that ripped around competition time. The rest of the time no ripped 6 pack (bit porky actually! most of the time!).

    Models, fitness or other wise may only look as “picture perfect” as they do right around the time of the given shoot where they have under gone a strict regime of diet and work out leading up to that shoot and look.

    • Savannah

      Hey Derek! Oh wow!! That’s such a good point! People genuinely think that these models and fitness professionals look like that all year round. Totally unattainable.
      There’s a funny shirt going around saying something to the affect of, “you looked fitter online.” I always think that’s pretty funny lol!

  • Lyn

    Hi Savannah,

    I agree with your point of view about female fitness standard nowadays. Decades after decades, new technologies, new trends new ideas coming in that changes our ways of life. Foods as well we must consider the right foods we eat for a better and healthy living.

    Thank you for pointing this out, this is a very informative article about fitness and health.

    Best regards,
    Lyn

    • Savannah

      Thank you so much, Lyn. I think you’re right. Body trends come and go. It’s interesting to look back over the past 100 years because the same trending body types resurface every few decades. Marilyn Monroe for example, her body type was envied during her time fast-forward and the curvy Kardashian figure is in again! It’s just madness and so unhealthy. We aren’t all meant to look the same.

      Thank you for your comment 🙂

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