The Problem With Fitness Models

Lately, there have been photos bombarding us from every angle of fitness models. You know, the ones on the covers of magazines, or wearing very little clothing as an advertisement for some new workout routine online, or on Instagram with predictable pictures of abs, abs, abs.

I could get into the issue I have with these types of pictures for their sexual tones (I mean, come on, a woman wearing nothing but a thong is suddenly okay if she’s flexing? Does nobody else see how ridiculous this is??), but instead, I’ll save that for another post. Today, let’s talk about the message that these photos put out.


Let me be clear, I have no problem with a person becoming a fitness model. Fine by me. The problem I have is the unconscious expectations these photos send to the world.

You see, these people make their bodies look fit and strong as a full time job. It is literally their job to look good. Is it your job to look good? If not, you need to dig deep into your unconscious and get rid of the idea that you ought to look like them. 

This issue isn’t one-sided when it comes to men and women, either. Men are bombarded with photos of bodybuilders, whose job it is to get ripped. Is getting ripped your full-time job? No? Then you need to internalize the fact that having expectations to look like that person are defeating and discouraging.

The whole issue of physical appearance expectations became real to me after reading this article about how much unhealthy work goes into a fitness photo shoot. These models were dehydrating themselves, eating unhealthily, and feeling like garbage during the shoot in order to get the bulging veins or tightened physiques that we expect to see in a fitness model. It’s pretty absurd, really.

I’m not advocating that you throw out any fitness magazine you own or stop following your favorite fitness guru on social media. I’m just asking that we all try to use a little more awareness. Awareness that health is more important than looks. That people we see posing for fitness photos are often harming themselves to look that way, having their pictures photoshopped, or both. And awareness that if your full time job doesn’t involve weightlifting, looking like a fitness model is going to take a serious amount of work, if it’s even possible for you to do it.

These models can provide motivation, but the second you start comparing yourself to them and destroying your self-esteem, you need to bring yourself back to that awareness of reality. Not to mention, working out for looks alone is actually less motivating than working out for your health or for athletic goals.

It’s time for a huge societal mindshift when it comes to fitness models. Wellness is more important than appearance. Remember that.


What motivates you to get active?

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