During my freshman year in college, I had a roommate who really (really) enjoyed creating motivational “art work” that she plastered all over our tiny little kitchen. She was an art major, enjoyed drawing, and believed full-heartedly that her images and quotations were the perfect motivation pieces to keep her healthy.
“Snacking is of the devil!!!” was my favorite little quote of hers.
I’ll be honest, my other roommates and I mocked these signs mercilessly (especially when we found her snacking in the kitchen). This girl was not fat, but like so many, believed that she needed to lose weight.
We all could use a little motivation at times, right?
Whether we are trying to change an unhealthy habit or press forward with ones we are already doing, there is nothing wrong with looking for proper motivation. Even though I thought my roommate’s drawings were funny (and a little obsessive… and made our kitchen look like a playschool art gallery), it didn’t bother me to see her trying to put good thoughts out there.
So with that in mind, please excuse this little rant I am about to embark on.
Why I hate the Pinterest “Motivation” boards:
If you are on Pinterest, you know the ones: boards full of images with women in their underwear and sports bras, glistening with sweat, modeling perfect make up and “tousled” hair, holding little dumbbells or running in those awesomely expensive running shoes. They are usually accompanied with some sort of quote:
“Get off the couch and be the sex machine you were born to be!” (or something like that… I may have made this up, but it’s probably out there somewhere).
These boards have different names of course: Motivation!, Exercise!, Just do it!, Reach my potential!, Make my husband drool!, etc.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate the idea of motivation, nor even people’s attempts to be healthier. Nor, am I a Pinterest hater. There are a lot of things I actually like about Pinterest. I like that I have a place to post my crazy-hippie all natural recipes. I like to have a place to put books I want to read that I can easily access. I like getting some of the most random (but so helpful) ideas in regards to parenting, living, and home improvement.
But the Pinterest motivation boards—yeah, I despise them. Here are just some of the reasons why:
These images are setting women up for failure.
Almost all of these images of women are photo-shopped to death. Even though these women are probably all very fit, my guess is that even they are not fit enough to meet up with our post-production world.
I was watching a photography tutorial online a week or so ago. The very talented photographer was touching up an image of a tennis player. This girl was ripped. She was toned. She was beautiful. And yet, I sat there in disbelief as the photographer nonchalantly nipped in her stomach, tanned her skin, created some muscle definition, etc. I was sick. Not even the fittest are “fit” enough.
Women: You will NEVER look like these women. And that’s wonderful! You will look like a real person, your own version of healthy. Let go of the unrealistic (and damaging) image.
Many of the images are isolating one part of the woman’s body.
Argh! Like we need any more emphasis on objectifying our parts or isolating our flaws. These images continue to promote a disconnected body—which not only harms our perception of what a healthy body is, but it also has major ramifications of how we approach fitness, health, and wellbeing.
Women: We are a whole person. Body, mind, spirit! We are not just a collection of hard abs, toned legs, and killer butts. Enough, already!
These images are sending the wrong message about fitness.
These images are meant to be looked at. But guess what? Our bodies are so much more than something to be looked at. And while I have no problem with women wanting to look nice, healthy living should emphasize how we feel and what we are able to do in the world.
Women: We are more than something to be looked at. We can be a force for good in the world.
I’m not into soft porn.
Now I’m really getting on my soapbox, but I am blown away by how many of these images are completely over sexualized (and some downright trampy). And what blows my mind even more is how many women use these images as “motivation” and then complain that society only sees them as a sex object. Well, duh.
Women: Let’s show a little self respect and remember that we are not objects to be lusted after.
Before you all go a-hatin’ me:
I really do see the many good intentions behind these boards, and keep in mind that I don’t hate the women who post these things. Of course there are some images or links that are really useful and truly inspirational—the kind of motivation we need! Still, for the most part I think there is a much better way to motive.
What are they? I’m glad you asked.
Motivation tips for healthy living:
- List the reasons why you want to be healthy. What do you have to gain?
- Think of the people who will benefit from you being healthy: Your children, spouse, and friends.
- Aim to feel good instead of inflict torture for some sort of unattainable flawless body.
- Go ahead and give yourself a healthy reward if you meet your goals.
- Keep it about community: Working out becomes its own motivation when it’s fun and when you are doing it with people you love.
- And if you really need something to “pin,” I give you this:
How’s that motivation?
UPDATE: I realize the baby pin isn’t really “in line” with the rest of the article. It was meant as a sort of tongue in cheek thing. (Let’s be honest, this is my beautiful baby and one of her beautifully hilarious faces and the “mom” inside of me wanted to share it.) BUT, I do feel that what we really need are some better motivational images out there. So… here is a real one:
What are you some of your motivation tips? Do you hate or love the motivation boards? (It’s okay to disagree with me.)
(top featured image by Your Personal Best Training Studio, Flickr)