Wake up. Scroll through Instagram. Weigh myself. “Ugh, you’re so heavy”. Pinch every roll and jiggly part. Take “progress pics”. Side by side collage. Zoom In. Compare. Feel anxious and sad because I don’t look like the girls on Instagram. “Not good enough. Push harder”. Go about my day with this heavy cloud of negativity.
With the constant scroll of perfectly muscular bodies throughout my Instagram feed, I thought I used these photos as #fitspo when in reality, it filled my head with unrealistic aesthetic aspirations. My old habit of scrolling through Instagram would send me on a toxic, self-critical thought loop. It had to stop. So I asked questions.
Where did these body ideals come from? Who said these were THE ideal bodies to look at? Why am I aspiring to look like these women? Enter beauty standards of the modern time.
It’s interesting to track the transformation of the ideal female body throughout history. But it’s actually shocking to map the body type ideals just within my lifetime. From the 80s athletic shape to extremely thin in the 90s to the big butt with thigh gap of present day, body image and messaging around the ideal body type are changing as fast as the micro seasons at Forever21.
This leads me to wonder what kind of impact these ideals have on the way I choose to workout and fuel my body. I for sure have told my coach, “I want a bigger butt”. So we made a plan and proceeded to concentrate on just that body part. Instead of letting my body thrive in its natural state with HIIT workouts, I slaved away at various forms of deadlifts, leg extensions, banded exercises, and 40min of stairmaster multiple times a week. I got my butt, but then what? It still wasn’t enough. I needed the tiny waist and flat tummy too which for me is only achieved by diet and cardio. But cardio made my butt shrink. So… WTF. Beauty ideal of the 2000s not attained.
As illustrated, the ideal body seems to be this elusive thing that many people strive for. I say people because chasing the ideal body also affects dudes. Calf implants anybody?
For my happiness, I realized it was imperative to pry myself away from the obsession of attaining the “perfect body”. I had to make a stand against giving into the beauty standard as a measurement of my worth. I am more than just my body. I am a daughter, sister, mentor, friend with a big ass brain, a deep ass soul, and a lively ass spirit. I still workout 6 times a week but instead of the end goal being an ideal body type, I workout to manage stress, challenge my athletic abilities, and build community. I’m building me as an entire person and it’s working great.
Why do you workout? #sweatbrightly