I got into a mild disagreement today when one of my trainers posted an article about Anna Victoria, an Instagram fitness guru, with the caption ‘Awesome article.’
I tried to construct a response several times over. I managed a short one, but didn’t want to ramble on Facebook, so here I am.
Anna Victoria is, by most people’s standards, very attractive. She posts pictures of purple broccoli, healthy plates of colourful food and pictures of her smiling in bikinis, as well as inspirational quotes and before and after pictures of people on her fitness regime. Life looks pretty damn good for Anna Victoria, which is great.
Here is the photo and caption she posted to Instagram showing her ‘flaws’ and ‘rolls.’ Yes, the rolls you exhibit when you sit down so when you stand up straight you skin doesn’t tear. Really, lack of rolls would be more of a flaw.
There are two reasons I want to share this with you ladies: one reason is because I want you to know having skin fold over on your stomach when you sit or to have "rolls" is not anything to hate or be ashamed of. The other reason is because while I say this, there have been times where if I ever found myself in front of a mirror where I am sitting and I see my stomach, I automatically think "ew!" because this is what society has conditioned me to think. Your stomach does not have to be perfectly flat to be healthy, your stomach does not have to be perfectly flat for you to love yourself, and your stomach does not have to be perfectly flat to be confident and beautiful and an all around amazing person. As a society, we shouldn't let physical characteristics set the standard for whether we deserve to love ourselves or not. Everyone deserves to love themselves, however I know that's easier said than done. What's amazing to me and what I have witnessed with the fbg girls is most of the time they start learning to love themselves more on their journey not because of the physical changes, but because of the mental and emotional changes that come from dedicating yourself, pushing yourself, and seeing just how strong you really are. (what we call "non-physical progress" and is just as, if not more important than physical progress). That type of strength and beauty can only be seen and felt from within. ?? #fbggirls www.annavictoria.com/guides
Her quote is lovely and inspiring. It’s not the words that annoy me, per se. It’s the context. If this was a photo of someone bigger, curvier, outside the societal ideal of beauty, her comments would be fine, but, as I wrote in response to my trainer, she actually propagates the societal obsession with looks rather than refuting it. She is part of the problem, not the solution (if the problem is self loathing based on physical appearance).
The worst part is pretending she’s helping people love who they are today. It’s the disconnect. Sure, she is helping people to love themselves, but by changing, not through accepting.
My Instagram life does not look like Anna Victoria’s.
I am trying to get in shape.
My exercise regime is high intensity interval training for 30 minutes 4 times per week, plus 3 times a week I now train for a half marathon. I also do squat challenges and the occasional fitness event; Color Run, Mud Run, that short of thing. I am not lean or skinny or toned, but I am honest.
I don’t hate my body, in fact, I love it. It’s been pretty good to me over the 32 years we’ve been together, but I want more for it, so I’m working on it. On Instagram I post post-work-out selfies and meals thrown together that I can take to work or eat on the go and I try to be honest, to tell the truth about how I’m feeling.
And sometimes I’m miserable and I try to be honest about that, because it doesn’t always feel great when I work out and I get frustrated…
And sometimes I am totally pumped and super happy and I feel great and I share that too, complete with panda eyes (life’s too short to always properly remove your make-up before a work-out)…
Oh yeah, and my username is CocktailJo, so I make cocktails too. Awesome, boozy, not suitable for the diet, cocktails…
And do you know what? The whole time…all of these pictures…the good, the bad and the almost ugly (I’m not ugly), I love myself.
What’s my point? You don’t have to love the journey every single day of it. You don’t have to love everything about your body, not every single part of it. You don’t have to make beautifully presented meals and cut out booze. You don’t have to be happy and bubbly, with dewy skin that isn’t sweat every time you work out and if you are, you are probably doing it wrong anyway.
Don’t let people like this post glossy shots all over your Instagram feed of the static moments in their life they choose to share and then let them tell you that you don’t have to be like them, because that’s bullshit, right? You want the hot bod, you won’t look groomed and glam all the time. You will sweat, you will tire, you’ll slip up, but, and, here’s the secret, you love yourself enough to try and improve.
There are so many real people out their being honest. You shouldn’t need some self-appointed fitness guru that thinks rolls of skin when you sit down are a flaw rather than the design of the human body, telling you anything other than ‘I work hard to look this good and here’s how I do it.’
FYI Since when did society decide these kind of skin rolls were ‘ew!’ My goodness!