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AIM: The Thinternet: Tool or Tormenter?

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Thinspiration.  Have you heard of it or seen it?  It’s supposed to be motivating to get yourself in shape.  Especially in places like Tumblr or Pinterest.  Pinning images of really thin women, usually accompanied by a workout or some sort of “clean” recipe.  People make vision boards with these to motivate themselves.  You have to be very careful with them, I think.  It’s a double-edged sword.   On the one hand, you want to give yourself some kind of inspiration to get moving.  On the other hand, the images themselves can lead to body image problems and unrealistic expectations. On Pinterest, I saw this one:

nonono

This was repinned many, many times and the worst part?  The caption “I will look like this soon”.  This made me incredibly sad. This is not what the majority of women will be able to look like unless they naturally have that willowy bone structure (and nothing wrong with that at all) or they have to diet to an extreme.  I could never look like the above no matter how hard I tried – it’s just not my body structure.

I have always viewed these with concern and some annoyance.

Then they started messing with lifting.  The newest thing? Strong is the new Skinny/Sexy.  On the surface, the strong is the new skinny is a good thing because it is encouraging being strong.  However, it is often accompanied by a picture like this:

noway

I am annoyed on many levels by this picture. First, this woman is likely not lifting as heavy as what is implied in this photo.  It’s also another very difficult standard to try to achieve.  They are now selling that you need to be both skinny *and* have a 6-pack, i.e., very low body fat.  You know those models that are ripped in the pictures? They don’t walk around like that 365 days a year.  Not to mention all the stylists, makeup and lighting to get the perfect shot.

Then, since I am on a roll, why does everything for women have to be equated with sexy?  Substitute whatever word at the beginning.  Smart is the new sexy, orange is the new sexy, yoga is the new sexy, whatever.  How about strong is the new power?  Or strong is the new equalizer? Women need to stop thinking of themselves only on the level of being sexy (or skinny). Can you be strong and feel sexy? Sure!  There is nothing wrong with feeling sexy, but that is not all you should aspire to. And that’s not what we should be teaching our young girls and boys. Women are so much more than just objects to be judged solely on looks. It’s a small part of the package of a whole woman.  Be the best and healthiest that *you* can be with the body you have.

 

Go ahead, motivate yourself. Just be careful who you use as a role model – and be careful of what little ears and eyes may be hearing and seeing.

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Make sure you read more  at my fellow AIMers’ blogs for their thoughts on this topic!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Debby @ Debby Weighs in

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you would like us to address!

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23 comments to AIM: The Thinternet: Tool or Tormenter?

  • Oh, I don’t even know where to start with the whole ‘sexy’ thing. Sexy is good, but like the scale or body shape or income or any host of other external things, we shouldn’t let it define our worth. Someone (Miz, maybe?) had a post once that asked why we could’t just say, “Strong is the new…strong.” I like that.

  • It is days like today that I am so thankful to have kept my social media limited and my blog simple. I had never heard of “thinspiration” until I began reading the AIM posts. What a shame and what a waste. The internet is like so many other things in life. When used properly, it can be wealth of helpful information on most any subject. But it can all too easily become a tool of harm and danger.

  • I’m going to say here what I said on Shelley’s blog: strong is the new skinny makes me call bullsh*t!!! Those women are paid models who don’t eat and then are airbrushed to add insult to injury. They are NOT lifting and working out to get bodies that are healthy and fit.

    I worry what younger women think about this stuff. No, actually, I worry that they even SEE this stuff.

  • I like feeling strong, and knowing that the work I’m putting into my running, walking and land workouts is contributing to that…but in no way do I equate my strength as sexy, nor do I want that – and it makes me sad that this is what so many women aspire to.

  • Yeah, that chick holding the weight doesn’t have enough muscle on her to hold it! Whatever!

    I hate the fitspo/thinspiration stuff I see. It’s so damaging and honestly, the chicks that look like skeletons are a major turn-off!

  • Biz

    This post reminded me of this guy who “faked” his before and after shots – its basically him on the same day – first picture slumped over, pushes his gut out has long hair.

    He then cuts his hair, shaves and all of a sudden he has six pack abs – proving that what you see isn’t always true.

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/weight-loss-photos-faked-trainer-andrew-dixon-19768949

  • I would swear I replied to this already, and I’m sure it was brilliant. happy I know I agreed with you about this ludicrous tie-in of almost everything to being sexy. I like feeling sexy, nothing wrong with that, but it’s not my overarching goal. And oddly enough, it NEVER happens when I’m in the middle of a plank or using the squat rack. happy Someone (Miz, maybe?) had a post a while back that basically said, “Strong is the new…strong.” I liked that. happy

  • Thank you for writing this! I wrote a blog a while back that was similar in thought. I get SO sick of seeing these thing. One was, “Fit Girls Look Good Naked.” I am fit, but I look terrible naked. After losing 150 pounds, my skin sags. I will never have a “good” body. Sometimes I get very upset about this when I think about it. However, I am healthy. My Dr says all my levels are optimal. I am fit and can run for miles. I am strong and have a lot of muscle. I will never look like those women. I am short and stocky and somewhat muscular for a woman. I have big hips and boobs and to be very thin I know I’d have to starve myself. I already work out a ton, yet I can’t even eat 1800 calories without gaining weight. It’s very hard. Not everyone can be tiny.

  • Linda

    Ugh…that truly isn’t “sexy “. I say let us be who we are. I would rather a painting like from the nude era where they were real women. Looking “sexy” with their natural beauty, not like they are sickly.

  • The last sentence in your post is the best! We should make a pin of that with a normal healthy body.

    The internet has it’s advantages but also disadvantages. The internet has brought me friendships that I wouldn’t have had 10 to 15 years ago. I mean, without the internet we would never have “met”. It made my world bigger.

    I am a down to earth person and can’t be influenced by these thinternet things. Although I have to admit I was carried away by all those people who ran a half marathon out of nothing. Thought I could do that too, how wrong I was. Came to my senses about that lately.

    For the young people the internet can be a danger, not only because they get the wrong ideas about healthy bodies but let’s not forget the bullying (sorry don’t know the right word) on Facebook, Twitter and so on. There has been a couple of young kids in my country the past year that committed suicide because they were bullied in real life and on the internet. That worries me.

  • Such a great post Lori – with you!! I used to love to share pics like this in my younger years but so have learned & grown from that & away from that..

    Strong is strong! That pic of the supposed weight lifting one – NOT! I do think we need to teach better thought processes to our kids – things in the media have not changed – there is mouth & lip service but it is the same.. very sad! Kids are getting bombarded at earlier & earlier ages!

  • You mean you don’t lift naked?

    Like Jody said, strong is strong. Period. Sexy need not be applied to everything about being a woman! Erg!

    I also relate to what Elizabeth said in her comment. I do not look “good” naked, good in the way you see it defined in thinspiration photos. My boyfriend, however, looks at me through different eyes and tells me I look sexy with no clothes on. So to me, sexy is in the eyes of the beholder, not the photoshopped lens.

  • I. love. this. I’m with you on all points and can’t wait to read what the others have to say.

    I’ve had a similar conversation on this subject with all of my kids on this topic. I want them to strive for health, not improper ideals.

  • Colleen

    That girl in the car looks sickly…un healthy. I don’t see anything appealing about her. She just looks ill.

  • Miz

    Id like to think the internet is FINE and it’s how we use it yada yada yada but it sadly terrifies me.
    Its what everyone says about the emaciated being the most re-pinned.
    and will that ever change?

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