In the virtual Pinterest and Facebook world, countless women (and men, too) view pages, like the one above, that promote images of "health and fitness." And I put "health" in quotation marks, because a number of these memes promote disordered eating and thinking and are, in my opinion, the opposite of health.
Many of these memes rely on shaming to put forth their message. I will not directly post to any of these images, but here are a few of the quotes imposed upon pictures of very lean women:
"Tears will get your sympathy. Sweat will get you results."
"Success trains. Failure complains."
"This is what dedication looks like"
That final one is especially problematic to me. You can be dedicated without abs. You can be determined without a thigh-gap. And you can be worthwhile without large glutes.
I know a lot of people find "Strong is the New Skinny" motivating, but to me, it is just as degrading and shaming as any other beauty paradigm.
So what is my complaint? Several of my friends have said that they would be flattered to have their picture turned into a fitness meme. And I understand that desire. But it is this quote, this idea that my 'dreams' are somehow wrapped up in my abs or arms or thighs that truly bothers me. My 'dreams' are not to have nice abs and to conform to some other person's standards of beauty, but to finish my doctorate (done!), write my book, teach the sport that I love. I dream of being a good person, of motivating people through my actions, not my body.
If "Female Gym Motivation" wanted to just post my picture, preferably the original and not this odd, darkened version*, I would be okay with that. But adding this quote somehow made me feel like the interwebs was attempting to rewrite the totality of my existence. I have gone from a Professor and Coach, to a vapid and cliched trope. And maybe I am just a wee bit sensitive, but I already detest fitspo memes, and being made into one makes me feel, well, shamed.
*Notice how they used a strange effect on the meme to accentuate my muscles. It also gives me the look of having rolled around in the mud for several hours.