Picture Perfect?

Fitspo. I’ve only recently learned the term, even though I’ve been seeing it for a while. Pictures of super-lean women, often accompanied by a motivational saying. Fit-spiration. I have friends that post it constantly. Some Facebook pages that I subscribe to pass it along daily. I have even snagged some images to re-post on my blog’s Facebook page. Long before the social media revolution, I created my own by clipping out pictures from magazines and catalogs, saving them in a binder, and flipping through them when I wasn’t feeling motivated to exercise. But does it provide inspiration or breed dissatisfaction?

I have changed some over the years, as I have become more focused on what my body can do than striving to look like some ideal. I want to eat healthfully and be fit, but I don’t want my entire life to revolve around food, exercise, and meal planning. I have come to terms with the fact that I’ll never completely eradicate arm flab and cellulite or have a bullet-stopping butt. Still, I have to admit that I am inspired by fine physical specimens. Athletes especially. I like to see the pinnacle of genetics and hard work combined out there doing magnificent things. It spurs me on to discover what I might be capable of.

The USA 4 x 400 meter relay team brought home the Gold in London and looked great doing it.

Some people don’t like that most people featured in ads and entertainment are decidedly not the average five-foot-four, 166-pounder, and ask “Where are the ‘real women’?” I have to admit that phrase bugs me a little. Is a thin or lean woman somehow less real? Women can be each other’s worst critics: muscular women mocking thin women mocking heavier women and round and round it goes… We are all born with a predisposition to a certain shape. Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were both beautiful and yet so different. We have different physiques that we aspire to, different activities that we enjoy. And that should be fine. Treat your body well and enjoy it for what it is, even if you’re in the process of improving it.

Photoshopping, on the other hand, does bother me. I know I’ve felt discouraged about not looking like the women in magazines, but do the women themselves even look like that? Did Britney and Faith’s bodies below really need to be digitally altered? Is anyone ever good enough? How much are men’s perceptions are affected by these media-generated ideals? Is the expectation that we should never have a  bump, bulge, or blemish?

Images are powerful things, and the line between fantasy and reality is often blurred. Do you find models, fitness, fashion, or otherwise, motivational or discouraging? Does not looking like some ideal sap the joy from your life? I know it used to for me, and I’ve come to the realization that the worrying just wasn’t worth it.