Why “Strong is the New Skinny” needs to die

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If you’ve looked at anything about health & fitness lately, you’ve probably heard about “fitspiration” or fitspo, and you may have seen its motto: “strong is the new skinny”. This may seem like a way of empowering women to be healthier, and to focus on fitness more than weight. It might have even started out that way. But that’s certainly not how it is now.

Now, fitspo is just another way of telling women they’re not good enough. And it’s bullshit. Here’s why, top 5 style:

  1. You still have to be skinny anyway. If you Google ‘strong is the new skinny” and look at the images, you’ll see what I mean. You can’t actually tell whether these women are strong, aside from their six-pack abs. In many of the photos, there is little muscle definition anywhere else. But you know what? They’re all still skinny as fuck. So we’re not really replacing one ideal with another. We’re just adding one more way to be inadequate. This is not empowering. It’s degrading.images-1

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    Let’s punch the air!

  2. Pro: there are multiple ways to define strong. Con: we’re only talking about physical strength here. Skinny is a binary definer: there may be different cut-offs, but you’re either skinny or you’re not. However, there are multiple ways to be strong besides the physical. For example, there is emotional and mental strength, which is sometimes alluded to in some of the posters in the form of determination and motivation, but they are seen only as a means of obtaining physical strength. They are not enough on their own.images-3
  3. You’re still an object. This is described much better here, but when you look at the fitspo images, the women are wearing “clothing” that nobody would ever wear to work out. They’re usually in bikinis or ridiculously cut-off t-shirts and shorts and pose like models, not like athletes. The pictures never show them actually lifting the barbells they’re posing with, or doing any actual exercise. In fact, the models are headless torsos in many of the photos, which effectively turn them into body parts, rather than whole people.images-5fitspo-pretty-thinspo-Favim.com-487761

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    Let’s workout!

  4. The photos show a complete lack of diversity, both in ethnicity and in sport/activity. All the women are white, and they’re either lifting weights (or rather posing beside them) or doing Crossfit. I probably don’t even need to state that all ethnicities can be physically strong (and will have different body types) and that you can be strong playing any sport. 

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    Found this with some digging.

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    Found this with even more digging.

  5. It leads to people doing stuff like this to themselves:photo

What do you think of the fitspo movement? Can you find an example that’s actually empowering to women?

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