Today I was tagged in a post by the super awesome Kimber Simpkins pointing me to a gorgeous new slideshow on Mind Body Green entitled I Am A Yogi. It was posted by photographer Robert Sturman as the first entry in what he hopes to be a big group of photos on Instagram portraying yogis of all shapes, sizes, ages, races, creeds and situations. Sturman says:
Whether you’re a CEO, serving a life sentence in prison, living with cerebral palsy, living with breast cancer, a full-figured human being, a burn victim, living with HIV, living at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, 95 years old, or are just plain human, I invite you to post a picture on Instagram — just one per person, please! — and say a little something about yourself. Use the hashtag #iamayogicelebration and tag @robertsturman any time through the end of September.
I am pretty excited about these slides as I think it gets at a very important part of the work I and other allies like Ragen Chastain do in the fitness industry. This work includes helping the world widen their visual definition of how fitness looks.
This so important and so necessary in a world where fitness, especially fitness for women has turned into a code word meaning, “any and all activities necessary to make your body fit my culturally predetermined definition of somebody I would like to have sex with.*” Blogger Kevin Moore had a lot to say on his scathing teardown of the “strong is the new sexy meme” here.
Strong isn’t really replacing skinny; being skinny is no longer enough. Now, ladies, you need to be skinny and ripped. It’s an additional layer of self-loathing (perfectly suited for hypergymnasiacs), just in case people had started to get desensitized to the omnipresent and psychologically crippling display of corpse-thin women in the media.
I’m not saying that the women in these ads are not fit. I’m also not saying that they are not sexy. I AM saying that they don’t get to be the only visual definitions for the words “fit” or “strong” or “sexy”–at least not in my vocabulary.
Sure, sexy can look like those women, or it can look like these folks who performed with me at the More Cabaret Gimme More! Show this past Sunday. (All taken by the amazing photographer Robert Ray.)
That is an important part of the work that Ragen Chastain and I do with the Fit Fatties Forum where we have over 300 images of men and women of all sizes getting out there and having a glorious good time being fit and enjoying the skin they’re in.
I really think if we’re going to define the “new sexy” or the “new fit” that definition needs to be (ahem) a little broader.
The Fat Chick
*I know I’m ending a sentence with a proposition. So for the grammarians out there just add “…” and a word that you would like me to use to describe you. For example–“This is what fitness looks like…smarty-pants.”
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You look like Superwoman in that first picture. I want to superman that…
Don’t listen to those silly magazines, you look fabulous girl.