We recently completed an audit on the health and wellbeing industry, and delved deep into how other supplement brands are presenting their formulations (specifically their fitness range) through their marketing material. We were really horrified to find the same stereotypical shredded physique reinforced over and over again. Obviously we are aware of societal beauty standards and how they impact public discourse - but to see them repeated had a harmful compounding effect on our all-female team.
Further to this, we asked our audience a few questions about their journey with fitness, and we were shocked and saddened by the results. We had over 6000 responses, and 88% of our audience said they felt body conscious when they walked into a gym, and 82% said Instagram made them feel insecure and self conscious.
It quickly became clear that we needed to be the change we wanted to see in order to help shift perceptions around what a fit body looks like. But before we could get stuck into planning an inclusive and realistic narrative to help break the stereotype, we first needed to ask the question…how did we get here? How did we get to a point where women are continually having to alter their appearance to be perceived as fit or healthy?
We didn’t wake up feeling this way. The stereotypical ‘fit body’ has been perpetually reinforced to us through social discourse until it became a learned behaviour that we’ve over time accepted and adopted as the norm. A quick google search of ‘shocking weight related magazine headlines from the last decade’ returned the following results, to mention just a few;
- Are you hungry or just sad?
- 50 best and worst bikini bods
- 15 minute body fixes
- Get thin fast
- Weight winners and losers
- Fun ways to burn fat fast
- Unhealthy weight alert - how to escape the obesity trap
Almost always accompanying these headlines is a fair skinned, thin and youthful looking cover girl. Helping to propel the idyllic female form we’ve come to understand as ‘healthy’ is the talent selected to be on TV shows and commercials. Sure, times are changing, but cast your mind back just a few years and the lack of body and cultural diversity truly paints a picture of how our thinking, and dare we say it, our self acceptance has been shaped.
Of course it’s getting easier to identify these outdated ideologies that we grew up with. But new-age, problematic content continues to crop up and instill the same level of insecurities in all of us. Like Instagram filters and their ability to normalise body dysmorphia, or the Kardashian effect and the introduction of brazilian butt lifts. On top of this, the pressure for new mums to ‘bounce back’ has managed to hang around like a bad smell and a whopping 4% of the Australian population still continue to battle eating disorders - that’s a horrifying 1 million people.
And it’s any wonder why when the health industry is capitalising on fad diets and fitness apps, not to mention the $255B worth of advertising they are running through Facebook & Google each year. Yep, when we really stopped to think about how we got here, it’s easy to see how people have been persuaded into cutting out vital nutrients like dairy and gluten from their diet.
Lastly, how can we ever expect anyone to feel comfortable on their fitness journey, if they aren’t reflected in the content they are consuming about healthy exercise. Representation across all different types of communities has been seriously lacking in our media for far too long - and it’s time to make a change. We felt we had a duty of care to share the fitness stories of real, unique women and we hope you find them as relatable as we do. It’s no longer about how did we get here, but what else can we be doing to create change? We urge you to join the movement. Even if it’s just one conversation with friends and family to help break the stigma around what a fit body looks like - any action is helpful.