Day 23: Pop Culture Probs

23. What’s something relatively “simple” you’d like to change about pop culture? For example: the use of ‘retarded’ synonymous with stupid in conversation.

Of course there are plenty of cultural traits I’d like to see eradicated, but one that’s been on my mind lately is the thinspo/fitspo trend. In particular, I stumbled across this blog post last week on the problems of fitspo by Jessi Kneeland, called “Fitspo Sucks.” I’ve always thought thinspo, meaning “thinspiration,” is a disturbing weight loss motivator, but that’s not to say it’s not effective at what it does. It’s not healthy, promotes an unsafe body image, and implies that extremely skinny is an ideal. When fitspo arose out of thinspo, basically in response to it, it seemed like a positive change. In our diet and beauty obsessed culture, an emphasis on health and fitness over skinny is a step in the right direction. Yet, as Kneeland points out, fitspo is just as guilty of promoting an unhealthy body image as thinspo. Perhaps even worse because it’s much easier to rationalize for yourself the behaviors needed to become ‘fit’, rather than the same behaviors needed to become ‘skinny’. It’s hard to find the negative in striving for fitness, whereas it’s more obvious when the single goal is thinness. Where fitspo becomes problematic is, as Kneeland shows, that thinness is still a main characteristic of fitspo.

All in all, I wish society would put more of an emphasis on healthy lifestyle over diet. And to actually do it, not masquerade thinness in ever more subtle ways. Tonight, I was watching The Biggest Loser, and I was shocked to see a contestant lose 17 pounds in one week. And the next lost 16 pounds! The contestants are known for putting up huge numbers in their first week of weight loss (still unnatural), but this weigh-in was the final of the season. How in the world does a show that claims to purport health, wellness, and lifestyle change think that highlighting excessive weekly weight loss like this is healthy for its viewers? I know the show has doctors and specialists to make sure that the contestants are staying safe during the process, but I can’t imagine what I would have to do to myself to lose 17 pounds in one week. Those kinds of numbers are not reality, they’re astonishing because the show intends for them to be astonishing. In reality, those kinds of numbers would be near impossible to replicate without the show’s vast resources. With my weight as it is, I’d easily blend in with some of the contestant’s “before” pictures, but I know the extreme weight loss techniques they use is not something I could do for myself privately. I’d much rather see the show teach realistic exercise methods and healthy meal options as the main feature, not short clips on either ends of the commercials. Watching an average person lose more than 150 pounds in 14 weeks is a spectacle and a marvel and a life-changing accomplishment, but it’s not reality. In my opinion, The Biggest Loser should be showcasing realistic healthy weight loss and showing viewers at home how to reach the same results naturally. Weight loss should not be a trend or a competition, because it then promotes that, again, skinny is the goal, a prize to be won.

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