Spoooon!

Thankfully MurderofGoths reminded me, or I would have missed Blogging Against Disablism Day!

I’ve discussed the issue of disability and being a Spoonie a bit previously here.  Today I want to look at the ways in which fitspo is actually shaming, ableist, and hurtful.

Fistspo, or fitness inspiration, has become very popular on all social media platforms.  Fistpo’s “goal”, as touted by those who create and share it, is to “inspire” you to get fit.  Usually this is done with “inspiring” statements encouraging viewers to get off their asses and go work out, plastered across pictures of washboard abs or rock solid glutes.  “What’s your excuse?” is a popular phrase, brought into the media spotlight by Maria Kang.  Click to read the ABC news story on her picture, but be warned, she makes no apologies for her fat-shaming or how it may have hurt anyone who saw the image.

The problem with fitspo, and especially with phrases like “What’s your excuse?”, is that it leaves out a lot of important considerations.  First and foremost being that no one needs an excuse for not looking like a fitness model or even for not exercising.  Why? Because it’s no one else’s business but your own what you choose to do with your body. Period. Full stop.  I don’t need an “excuse” because I do not have to justify my existence to anyone, TYVM.

Fitspo can also be highly problematic to anyone who suffers with eating disorders, body dis-morphia, or self-esteem issues.  For someone who is struggling to love their body and is doing the very hard work of learning how to take care of their body again, images such as these can cause major setbacks.  According to the ANAD, “up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S”.  In addition, “95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.8”, and “The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old” (emphasis mine).  These images do nothing to help millions of young people who are already bombarded every day with media that tells them that in order to be pretty/popular/or worthy, they must be thin, at any cost.

Now, relating to how fitspo plays into ableism, its images and messages ignore the fact that many people, especially those dealing with disabilities, both visible and invisible, may not be able to participate in fitness, especially to the degree required to achieve washboard abs and roch hard glutes.  For someone like myself, who is dealing with fibromyalgia, or for those who deal with diseases such as lyme, lupus, or CFS, our disability is likely less visible.  So according to proponents of fitspo and the like, we have “no excuse”.  Never mind the fact that there are days when I debate with myself for 10 minutes about whether taking a shower is worth the pain it will cause, let alone going to the gym for a workout. Even people with visible disabilities such as those that require them to use a wheelchair or prosthetic limbs, have no excuse thanks to so-called ‘inspiration porn’, images of disabled individuals doing Crossfit and lifting a barbell with one arm, wheelchair athletes, and the like.  Now, I’m certainly not trying to downplay anyone’s athletic achievements, able bodied or differently abled.  My point is that no matter your ability, the only acceptable body is still one that is fit and active.  And the inspiration porn featuring disabled folks is hardly celebrating their achievements.  Rather it serves as a message to able bodied folks that says “Look at this poor disabled person.  He only has one arm but he can lift weights and have a muscular body!  If he can do it, then you have no excuse!”

I am all for finding things to inspire you to find enjoyable ways to move your body, if you so choose.  However, I would like to see more positive images, rather than images meant to shame you into doing what other people think you should.  I believe in finding ways to move your body, simply because it makes you feel good.  I also believe that no one knows your body better than you, and therefore no one else knows what you can or cannot handle on any given day.  Some days I can hop on the treadmill, zone out, and walk/jog/run for 3 miles, and love every minute of it.  Some days I can get off the treadmill, do 20 minutes of work on weights, and then hop in the pool for a 15 minute swim, and finish up feeling tired but great.  Then there are some days where if I can manage the drive to the gym, all I can handle when I get there is a 10 minutes of gentle movement in the warm pool.  Or maybe I just go and sit in the steam room or hot tub to loosen the knots that seem to have moved in to every muscle of my body.  Some days I can’t even manage the drive to the gym, and just do my best to get from my chair to the bathroom when I need to pee!

Fitspo and its proponents seem to forget that all bodies are good bodies.  They forget that it isn’t anyone’s business but my own whether I exercise or sit of my duff.  They forget that not only is body shaming cruel, but it does far more harm than good.

My hope is that one day we will celebrate the wonder and beauty in EVERY body, rather than just those that fit society’s narrow standards of beauty.

I want to encourage you to celebrate your body today (and every day) for all the crazy-cool things it can do.  Take some time today to check your sexy self out in the mirror.  Find those spots that bother you, those spots that the media says are “trouble spots” and need to be “slimmed/smoothed/reduced”.  Really look at your body, especially any areas that you have trouble loving.  Touch those spots and find something about them to compliment.  For me, my belly has been a source of shame for too many years.  Now when I look in the mirror, I like to look at my belly (from the front AND the side!) and tell myself how much I love it’s soft curves that look like a big, rolling hill.  Some nights I lie in bed and caress my belly and focus on how soft it is, tickle the little happy trail that lets from my big round belly down onto my pudgy pubic mound.

Today, whether you are able-bodied or not, whether you have all the limbs or are rocking some bionic bits, whether you have all the spoons you need or are struggling to find a stray spoon that might let you wash your hair….take a little time today to love yourself.  Celebrate the body that you are in, right here, right now.  Because no matter what, you are alive.  And that, my friends, is pretty damn cool.

Jes Baker tells Lane Bryant what is wrong with the #I’mNoAngel campaign

Holy blogging, Batman!  Jes Baker one again hits the nail right on the head.  Today she posted an open letter to Lind Heasley, of Lane Bryant,  discussing their new #I’mNoAngel campaign, and the problems many of us have been discussing in relation to it.  Jes discusses many of the same issues I laid out in my previous post on the topic, probing each in more depth, as well as discussing things I hadn’t, like how only seeing a few body types as “acceptable” only serves to add to the myriad of reasons that so many girls and women develop body dysmorphia and eating disorders.  Jes says,

“When a person is constantly bombarded by images of one “ideal” body (plus or otherwise) it wreaks havoc on their psyche. The continual exposure mentally trains them to believe that only ONE body is worthy and this unfortunate social conditioning is one of the largest contributors to low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and other severe body image related issues- all of which affect daily living. Visible diversity is a solution to these problems, and asking for it is anything but egotistical. It’s absolutely necessary.”

Jes even went a step further, putting together a photo shoot to demonstrate to Linda Heasley the type of representation that she is suggesting.  Jes gathered some more badass babes like herself and created photos reminiscent of LB’s original images, but with much, MUCH more diversity.  (Side note, I like to imagine that Jes and her friends have some sort of secret signal that they put out when a badass girl gang is needed.  Then they are all “Gir-vengers, Assemble!” and this amazing girl gang appears, looking fabulous and fierce.)

Seriously folks, go check out this post.  It says everything I have said, plus so much more that I didn’t, and it is so well-written and obviously though out.  I absolutely devoured every delicious word as I read it.

And yes, I do totally have a massive sapiosexual girl-crush on Jes, and reeeeealy hope to have the chance to meet her and soak in her awesomeness one day!

ETA: HOLY POOPCAKES Jes and her campaign made the front page of the Huffington Post!!!!!

“But I’m a nice guy”

“But I’m a nice guy”.

This is a great post by MurderofGoths about otherness, women’s bodily rights, and the media’s handling of said topics.  She specifically discusses the way the media covers violent attacks, and the particular things that get ‘blamed’ for ‘causing’ someone to commit a crime.

“Obviously though, it’s the video games that did it.

Not a culture where women are bitches for “friendzoning” men.
Not a culture where women should aspire to be princesses and wait for their prince to choose them.
Not a culture where women are expected to be flattered by any and all male attention.
Not a culture where women are expected to fear spinsterhood and be grateful for rescue.
Not a culture where violence is excused as “boys will be boys”.
Not a culture where being a “nice guy” is held up as a reason for women to open their legs to a man.

Must be the games. Not the misogyny.”

I wholeheartedly agree with what MoG has said in this post.  It seems like every time a man carries out some sort of violent attack, the media immediately looks around, trying to find somewhere to pin the blame.  Usually they blame things like mental illness, violent games, violent movies, and/or certain genres of music.  “These things caused him to be violent!”, they say.  “Our children need to be protected from those with mental illness/video games/music etc!”, they say.  We hear these things no matter who the target of the attack may have been.  I do believe that people are too quick to assign blame to things that appear foreign or “other”, and I think MoG does an excellent job of pointing out the things that NEVER get blamed for these types of attacks.

When a man attacks a woman or women, no one ever says “Hey, I wonder if the patriarchal, misogynistic attitude of society had anything to do with this?”  Maybe we should look at a society and media that emphasizes male power and strength, while downplaying and even vilifying the same things in women.  If a man is strong and assertive, he is praised and called a ‘go-getter’. If a woman is strong and assertive, she is a ‘pushy bitch’.  If a man forgoes a family in favor of a career, or even just in favor of maintaining the freedom of his bachelorhood, he is again praised.  No one thinks there is anything wrong with him.  If a woman forgoes a family to pursue her career, or to maintain her freedom, she is vilified.  She is seen as selfish for wanting her life to be up to her.  She is seen as selfish and “unwomanly/unfeminie” for wanting her BODY to be hers and hers alone.  After all,

“She is a walking collection of body parts. Her breasts are important because men like them. Her buttocks are important for the same reason. And her legs. Her genitals are obviously important to men, if she gets any messages in the media about female masturbation it’s usually being sold as a good thing for a man to watch to get him in the mood. Heaven forbid she do it because she enjoys it! Her womb is important because that’s all part of sex. And if she doesn’t want to get pregnant? Why would she not want to? Doesn’t she know that her body’s main purpose is sex? And pregnancy is a natural conclusion to it.”

Our society and media encourage boys and men to think of themselves first and foremost, excusing any silly female feelings or bodies that might get hurt along the way as “Boys will be boys!”  Women should appreciate when a man catcalls her on the street, or harasses her for a date.  We should appreciate “being taken care of” instead of being allowed to say, fix our own cars or move our own heavy furniture.  (Don’t get em wrong, I’m not stupid, I know when to ask for help.  What irritates me is when some rando guy decides that I can’t possibly know what I’m talking about in a hardware store, or carry a heavy box simply because I am a woman.)

“In so much media she is defined by the men in her life, used as a plot device to further a man’s character development. She’s a convenient way of advertising goods. Her looks are her most important asset, once she;s old and they start to fade she’s no use.”

“She is nothing without he.” (emphasis mine)

What seems to come up so frequently in attacks on women, and one of the things MoG discusses in her post is the attackers hatred of women.  They hate women for not going out with them, for not behaving the way they think the should, or for standing up for themselves.  This attitude is at the root of what so many people say they hate about feminism.

What many people don’t realize is that feminism, while fighting against sexist notions such as these, is also fighting FOR, not against, the men of the world.  Feminism doesn’t tell men that they have so little self control that they are no better than animals at controlling their urges when they see a woman wearing a short skirt.  Society tells them that, not feminism.  Feminism does not tell men that they are so full of rage and anger that it’s ok to abuse their partners or children.  It’s society that looks at situations of abuse and asks “What did she do to provoke him?”  Feminism believes men are better than that.

Feminism believes men are better than the sexist advertising that panders to them.  Feminism believes that men are capable of both feeling and expressing emotions other than anger, and that it doesn’t make you any less of a man if you do so.  Feminism believes that children’s toys, books, and clothing don’t need to be gendered.

Feminism isn’t about hating men or banishing them all to some remote island.  Feminism believes that men and women are EQUAL because no matter what is between your legs, we are all human beings FIRST.

Until society begins to recognize that we are all human beings FIRST, before you look at gender, race, religion, or politics…until society realizes that we are all, every single one of us, worthy of respect and the right to do what we will with our own bodies and lives… Until then, we will continue to see prejudice and discrimination.  We will continue to see violent attacks on women and other minorities.  We will continue to see the privileged few rising up on the backs of those below them.