My friend and colleague Kjerstin recently posted this article about the upcoming “Diva 5K” in Miami Florida. The race, which exhorts women and girls as young as 8 years old to “Run like a Diva!” is offering an amazing prize package including botox (for winners 18 and older) and teeth whitening and laser hair removal (for winners 15 and older).
I cant even…
To my mind, one of the best things about participating in an event like a 5K is to empower women to think about their bodies in terms of what they can do rather than obsessing about how they look. Women can focus on being strong, and capable. Women can focus on being healthy and vibrant.
Unless we’re talking about the Diva 5K where women are encouraged to be wrinkle-free, white toothed and OMG hairless! Apparently all participants will get a chance to be greeted at the finish line “where handsome young men from the local dance schools will sweep you off your feet.” Because heaven knows, we can’t be interested in walking or running or otherwise exercising for our own sakes. Goodness NO, girl. We run to be thin, hairless, wrinkle-free and gorgeous for the hot “MENZ”! Jeez don’t you know anything?
As a fitness instructor with several decades of teaching under my belt, I find this sort of thing so intensely frustrating. We claim as an industry that we want people to exercise. And then we make ridiculous promises to people that we know are false, and we trivialize the unbelievable potent real rewards that come with being fit.
The fitness industry has always promised that if you exercise hard enough, you’ll look like a hot, young, supermodel, AND a hunky hot man will be waiting to sweep you off your feet. I’ve rarely seen that notion put into practice in quite as concrete a manner as we’re seeing with this Diva 5K, but it is a common notion nevertheless.
Yet, in reality, a 5K will make you look like a supermodel ONLY under the following conditions:
1. You looked like a super model BEFORE you started training for a 5K,
2. You have a hair and makeup crew near the finish line ready to bathe you, do your hair, airbrush your skin and make you over, and
3. Your finishers photos are heavily retouched in Photoshop.
Here’s a quick demonstration of what I’m talking about:
The sad thing is that the TRUE benefits of exercise (like lower stress levels, better blood glucose levels, better mood management, better sleep, a stronger sense of self esteem, a stronger immune system) THOSE benefits are often downplayed or overlooked. The transformations of the people that I have taught have had very little to do with looking like a model. I’ve seen a Mom, for the first time ever, have enough stamina to take her kid to Disneyland all day. And a man, who for the first time in twenty years can take his wife dancing again. I’m talking about people who can now bend over and tie their shoes, or walk their daughter down the aisle without pain or get their blood pressure or blood glucose levels under control. I’m talking about young women who for the first time in their lives look in the mirror and see power and competence and confidence rather than simple disappointment that they don’t look like the “after” picture they have been taught to envision for themselves.
I’ve done several races in my life ranging from a 5K Turkey Trot to a full on marathon. And yes, I have won some medals. And I plan to run some more. But if you’re standing at the finish line waving a gift certificate for free airbrush tanning or liposuction for me, I’d advise you to beware. I just might use my hard-won leg muscles to kick you somewhere soft and very private. Even if you ARE a hunky guy from the local dance class.
The Fat Chick
P.S. Speaking of handing out rewards, I’m happy to announce that our second winner in The Fat Chick’s Great Pedometer Giveaway is Susie Kline! Yay Susie!