Against The Gram
Being a small business owner, I do my best to keep up with things. I’ve spent a fair bit of time learning marketing principles between training clients (my real job). I understand that you have to move with the times and keep up.
But, despite what the gurus say I just can’t get into instagram. At the time of writing this, my last instagram post to my business page was 10 months ago. I post to stories when the mood takes me.
I still scroll it when I get a spare moment, mostly for the memes, but recently, I was triggered by a post that confirmed my dislike for the gram.
A body confidence post, touting self acceptance and a “balanced lifestyle” by a physique competitor who I estimate is probably less than 10-15% bodyfat. Far from the norm of us average types who are more in the realms of 25-30%.
She is wearing booty shorts and a crop top, perfectly tanned, and delicately “munching” on her favourite crisps (according to her) with a wide perfect teeth smile as she gently bites into the potato treat…. the caption implores us to accept her “rolls” as she puts it, which are no more than skin folds covering her lean abdomen. Can you relate? I certainly can’t. (especially the part where she’s eating one chip at a time – doesn’t everyone empty the bag into their face??).
A more accurate caption may have been: “Here is my exceptionally lean body that I work extremely hard for and do daily habits that you would find excessive and extreme, but I have come to think of them as normal. I am going to pretend that it’s easy. I am proud of my hard work and I look amazing”. Instead of passing off the post as one of body confidence in keeping with the trends of time.
I’m not saying she shouldn’t be proud of herself, her hard work, or her body – but she is the exception rather than the rule and nothing like the women I work with – or myself, whatsoever.
Yet that is who she wants to buy her product.
I feel that people who do these posts make a mockery of the very real body confidence issues the average woman faces, in order to get likes, because #positivity #inspiration. Given absolutely every comment was positive on this post, I would suggest that the page is heavily monitored and anything deemed “negative” deleted thus curating and reinforcing the message.
And the problem I have with that is this. Physique competitors who own gyms or particularly F45’s as their day job, then advertise that part of their work with their physique, which is absolutely nothing to do with group fitness or the average gym goer. This sets the bar ridiculously high.
The main reason I have a problem with this behaviour is that I see the direct impact of women comparing themselves to bikini competitors and people who failed as models and drop down into the fitness market as a back up plan selling supplements and booty programmes.
I am the one working with the young mother of young children who wants to get “shredded” like the people she follows on the gram, but also values baking cupcakes with her toddler and going out with family on the weekend.
I am the one explaining to a working mother that the person she wishes she could look like has no life and eats the same carrot salad every day.
I’m the one giving a reality check, while these ones post their fantasy world of perfect body confidence online.
The old me was itching to post a comment in line with all of these thoughts, but the me who has learnt the realities of how people monetise their instagram, their body and their bullshit stories knows I’ll just be helping them to reach more people, and spread their damaging message masquerading as acceptance and positivity further.
Instead I’ll just keep on trying to provide real fitness to real people, in a genuinely safe and accepting environment in the real world – taking into account all facets of their health, not just appearance.