Did I Get Your Attention? Good.
Now do you see how stupid this is?
If not, let me explain.
I have a thigh gap. It’s a small one, but it’s there whether I’m 115 lbs (I cringe to admit that at 5’9” I ever weighed that little) or 165 lbs. I’ve exaggerated the size of my thigh gap for this photo by standing pigeon-toed, but I promise, it’s always there.
Thigh gaps came on the scene a few years ago and were positioned as a desirable trait for women. Unfortunately for some in pursuit of the celebrated thigh gap, they were never going to have one until they had starved their bodies into submission.
It’s easier for some, not so easy for others. I have a thigh gap at 30% body fat while others may need to be at a dangerously unhealthy level of body fat before the lusted-after gap appears. Our body type, skeleton, and connective tissue are responsible for why this is. Jen Sinkler of Thrive as the Fittest addressed it very eloquently.
I have many fitness goals but none of them include pursuing a physical trait that would be dangerous to my health.
Enter the lusted after abs.
Our culture is obsessed with abs. Show me a fitness-related advertisement with a model that has his or her shirt ON. And just so we’re clear: I have no hate for people with six packs. I have a hate for the mentality that they are the be-all and end-all of physically desirable traits in the fitness industry. I have a hate for the pursuit of the six-pack-at-all-costs mentality.
Unfortunately for some (dare I say most) in pursuit of the celebrated six pack, they are never going to have one until they have abused their body into submission. Some women will have a visible six pack at 30% body fat. Others will have to starve, dehydrate, and lose their period before they have a visible six pack. For some (dare I say most?) their whole life will revolve around the six pack. They will exist in an incredibly unhealthy state, physically and mentally.
As a trainer, as the role model I’m trying to be in the fitness industry for healthy moms and families, it would be insanely unethical and irresponsible for me to post photos of my thigh gap and tell you “no excuses” for not having one.
Yet somehow coaches, trainers, and supposed “role models” of the fitness industry have been getting away with the no-excuses-for-not-having-abs photos for years.
I won’t have it. And I won’t shut-up about this. I’m calling out the supposed “pros” for these irresponsible posts.
The backlash I received (to this post) was mainly from people on two fitness competition pages. I tried to reach out to a few of them but was met with hostility. One woman told me directly “shut-up and take care of your kids.”
Guess what: I am. I’m trying to improve their future. By shining a light on a segment of the fitness industry that’s dark and scary, I may be able to start changing it. I may be able to keep my three children from falling into the same trap that I did in my late teens and early 20s when exercise and my diet took over my life. (Hello 115 lbs….)
A few other comments on my post: “I’m so sick of whiny lazy Moms” and “this woman is bitter because she’ll never have the dedication to be that fit” and “why is she hating on this healthy woman?”
It’s shocking and disturbing to me that some people believe you either have a six pack (or thigh gap, whatever) OR you are fat, lazy, whiny, and unhealthy. I also wonder what these people’s mothers would think of their comments.
After the dust settled, Jason Lannigan of Siouxcountry.com sent me a private message. This is what he had to say:
“Many women who follow my page compete or want to compete. Over the years I have seen more and more of the darker side of the industry, I am now at a point I don’t support competing at all. I do though continue to share good information on competing in hopes to reduce the number of women going to extremes for the stage. The change in my opinion about the competing side of the fitness industry has resulted in many women unliking my page over the past two years, but what matters to me most is that I’m doing what’s right not what will make me popular.”
What has the health and fitness industry become? What is the next generation learning as they scroll through oiled-up, headless #fitspo body photos on Instagram?
Healthy is eating. Healthy is moving. Healthy is your emotional state. A six pack or a thigh gap may be healthy, or they may be unhealthy. But in my eyes, the sole goal of pursuing either of those has nothing to do with health and fitness.
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