In a recent interview, Elizabeth Banks dared to step outside of the common, “I look like a movie star because of my alfalfa smoothies, my personal trainer and my guru” rhetoric to admit that she really can’t take that much credit for her gorgeous body.
In a recent interview in New You Magazine Banks said:
I didn’t quite believe I was pretty for a long time. I never thought about it. I’m very genetically blessed, I cannot deny it, but I work hard at keeping myself together. Yes, I have nice cheekbones and skinny legs but I can’t take any credit for it.
As Lily Carlin points out in her recent Huff Po article on the topic, this is very, very refreshing. Typically lean and leggy celebrities, or at least their publicists insist that the actresses get this way because of their special diet (paleo, vegan, clean foods, air–with accompanying celebrity recipe book $29.95), special exercise routine (pilates, yoga, dance, calisthetics–with accompanying exercise DVDs $19.95 each) and special spiritual routine (with accompanying spirit book, diary or retreat with guru $1499 and up).
I think this is one of the great lies of the fitness industry. There are an awful lot of genetically gifted folks out there some of whom were born on third and think they hit a triple. Some, like Elizabeth Banks understand that there is a strong genetic component to their conventionally good looks and are grateful and circumspect. But there are also plenty of folks out there who are convinced that everybody could be as thin and gorgeous as them if they only tried.
Now don’t get me wrong. I know that many movie stars take a great amount of time and energy to “maintain” their looks. They exercise a lot. They eat in a very prescribed way. And no doubt this energy has some effect on how they look.
But the reality is, we are not all starting from an equal place. So I could put in as much or even twice as much energy as them and not end up looking like them. I am not genetically gifted in that way. For one thing, I’d need to grow about 6 inches taller, and I don’t really see that happening. Let me explain it this way.
Usain Bolt is a great runner. Michael Phelps is a great swimmer. I am a naturally gifted singer with over three octaves of range and at one time, a fairly reliable high “F”. I can put just as many hours of running in as Bolt and I will never run like him. I don’t have the right kind of body for that. I could swim 6 or 8 hours per day and never swim like Michael Phelps. And I’m pretty sure that both of these guys could take 2 hours of singing lessons per day and never achieve a high “F”. Their bodies are not designed for it.
Does that mean I should give up swimming or running? Does that mean these fellas shouldn’t even sing “Happy Birthday”? OF COURSE NOT! But it does mean that we need to adjust what we see as “success” in each of these situations. I like to walk and run. But I am under no delusions that I will run like Bolt. I love to swim. But I will never swim like Phelps. So I define success in these areas in a way that feels right and natural to me and my body. When I do a 5K, I feel pretty good. I don’t worry too much about my time. And if I swim some laps and take a water aerobics class, I feel pretty good. I don’t worry that much about how fast I did it or even how far I went.
Most of us can accept that we will not be Olympic athletes when we exercise. So why is it that we believe that exercise and a special diet will make us look like a movie star? Why are we still looking at those articles touting 3 simple moves that will make us look like Julia Roberts. There are really only a few simple moves that are likely to get us there: 1) Encourage movie star’s mom and movie star’s dad to get it on. 2) Watch movie star mom get pregnant with us. 3) Win genetic lottery (maybe).
Check out this video:
See what I mean? So am I saying why bother? Am I suggesting there is no point to exercising and eating well? I think you know me well enough by now to understand that I will suggest no such thing. While you are the boss of you and under no moral, ethical or other obligation to eat well and exercise, I think that eating well and exercising are kind of awesome things. I think there are many, many benefits to both. However, I think those benefits are unlikely to contain a movie star body for most of us. And I think getting real about those expectations can help us enjoy our food and have a lot more fun exercising going forward.
Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
P.S. The Size Activism Conference is coming up SOON! Don’t miss it! Click here to register: