By Krysta Huber, Studio Lead & Instructor at The Fort Athletic Club, Certified Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor
It’s not exactly new to point out that most women are far beyond tolerating media portrayals of seemingly unrealistic physiques.Retail brands and influencers have taken a stand on the subject matter for quite some time. What movements represent a clear departure from the once idealized, stick-thin-Victoria’s Secret-model-body standards? Numerous social campaigns centered around body image, like the Body Positivity, ‘healthy-at-every-size’, anti-diet, and body neutrality cultures.
Although the body positivity movement dates back to the 1960s, when I consider what has shaped the conversation around body image in the last 20 years, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is one of the more iconic moments that come to mind. But that campaign dates back to 2004: MySpace was in its infancy. Mark Zuckerburg was still writing the code for what would later become Facebook. Instagram wouldn’t enter the scene for another six years.
Since then we have traded magazine airbrushing techniques used by models and celebrities for apps like Facetune that can cinch the waistlines of anyone with a smartphone–all with the swipe of a finger. If you’re reading this as a female who has spent just a few minutes scrolling any of these platforms, you’ll probably agree that social media places a renewed focus on our bodies. As a certified nutrition coach and personal trainer, and more importantly, as a mentor to women who struggle with the comparison game, I am relieved to see a more diverse representation and celebration of bodies online.
I’m all for giving likes in support of the “transformation photos” taken seconds apart, that illustrate to both men and women the illusory effects of lighting and angles, and sucking in your stomach to snap the insta-worthy photo.
But then there’s the other end of the spectrum, which is lately so culturally anti-diet it has me questioning whether it’s another form of toxicity in disguise. Take the artist Lizzo, whose music has exploded in the past three years. With that fame, Lizzo has publicly committed to building a platform supporting women to cultivate self-love. Lizzo believes that self-love and confidence stem from seeing ourselves represented in the people we aspire to emulate. I wholeheartedly agree with the power of role models, but I question at what cost.
To be clear, this isn’t a case for insisting that a specific celebrity prioritize weight loss. For one thing, I’ve never had a successful client who’s come to me because someone else wanted a particular outcome for them. Motivation and discipline never work that way. And in this situation, the cost we’re talking about is a pretty significant one: your health and longevity.
What’s more, Lizzo’s success, popularity, or musical ability should not be related to her dress or pant size. There is no question that there are women around the globe selling themselves short on their talents because they feel overcome by insecurities around their appearances. For these women, especially, I applaud Lizzo for all that she stands for.
But I have to question whether the American singer, Lizzo’s, take on self-love is so staunchly one-sided in its embrace of body fat acceptance that it simultaneously puts down people who view the health benefits of weight loss as a form of self-love. Isn’t exercise also a form of self-love? Or taking steps to feel your best in your swimsuit this summer? Celebrities, models and influencers who represent body positivity may not expressly criticize exercise or anyone who chooses to eat vegetables over french fries. But sometimes, it appears that we are being asked to choose sides.
We need to get to a place where we all agree that self-love and self-care take so many different forms, even for the same person. I fully own the fact that self-care for me sometimes looks like different things. On the one hand it can be a challenging resistance training workout or a walk along the beach with my dog. On the other hand it might be a comforting bowl of spicy vodka pasta or a large cup of ice cream on a warm summer night. Yet, I can only speak from personal experience. I’m not always motivated to train or walk the dog. But a gigantic bowl of pasta and a cup of ice cream, even on a warm summer’s night, might arguably contribute to a future with diabetes. Well maybe. As a nutrition coach, one of the best responses I can give to my clients (which they don’t always appreciate) is: “It depends.” It’s situational, messy, and uniquely tailored to you as a person. Quite frankly, though, that’s kind of what life is all about.
Krysta Huber is a studio lead and instructor at The Fort Athletic Club, certified nutrition coach, personal trainer, and group fitness instructor. Her coaching program, The Fitness FYX, blends nutrition, fitness, mindset, and stress management into one holistic approach. Krysta specializes in helping group-fitness lovers lose weight without tons of cardio, hours in the kitchen, or passing up on the foods they love most. Krysta hosts a bi-weekly wellness podcast, called The FYX with Krysta Huber, where she focuses on nutrition tips, goal setting, and a healthy mindset.