In life, things are not always necessarily as they appear. I somewhat pride myself on never making things seem too overly positive on here because I don’t think things being Not Good is necessarily a Bad Thing. Over the last few years since I started running, I started reading blogs. I wanted race recaps, I wanted tips, it was a way to feel engaged without having to join a running group and overtly out myself as the slow person who couldn’t keep up.
I’ve noticed some things about the social media-based culture around fitness and being “active.” There’s no room for Not Good stuff. I say “not good” in lieu of negative because sometimes you’re just neutral. Not being good, or great, or amazing, or the best you you could possibly be is not necessarily negative or bad. Not working out is not a terrible, horrible thing. Sometimes, life’s just coasting on smooth-ish water or it’s a little choppy. And that’s normal. People apologize for putting up things that aren’t inspirational and I think the attitude that you can only present the best you you can cobble together when you take all the Not Good stuff is more damaging than never, ever, ever harshing anyone’s buzz.
Sometimes, the fitspirational imperatives are doing more harm than good. Yes, good for the one legged woman with terminal cancer who’s about to die who got out and got in her run. Kudos to her, but the culture of constant heroes and people we are supposed to run for and honor and carry with us emotionally is a lot of baggage to carry around. The “What’s your excuse?” mentality demands that we assess ourselves against standards set by someone else we don’t even know.
And sometimes, the mental baggage I bring to this particular culture causes problems. Something I read a few months ago had me thinking about fatphobia. It was actually an article about a thin girl becoming not fat so much as less thin. And I felt a rage seething and churning in my chubby stomach alongside the macaroni and cheese I’d had for dinner. A friend of mine had posted this on Facebook and of course received an outpouring of support and love from people we both knew as she struggled.
Yet I seethed because I was fat all along. I had been fat, had become fatter, and then had become less fat, then plateaued at another level of fat. And here she was, getting told how brave she was for conquering her own fatphobia when no one even thought she was fucking fat to begin or end with. And so the “no excuses” mentality of the fitspirational world affects me differently than perhaps someone else who doesn’t have my same history. As a consistently fat girl, the baseline assumption is I’m not doing anything and I feel compelled to prove myself. To prove that I am in fact working on not being fat. I’m a good fat person. Spending a night on the couch watching television after work snowballs, for me, because I have the mentality that I must earn relaxation and am only allowed to have it in proportion to my active, calorie burning time.
Even doing free yoga videos off of Youtube, I stare at the instructor and wish I could be thin like her. I wonder what it would be like to be thin like her. To post pictures of the giant burritos I eat and still have a flat stomach. And it’s not what she’s saying or doing, because in the videos she’s delightful but it’s the baggage that I bring with me wherever I go.
And somehow, the fitspirational/active lifestyle social media culture just doesn’t help me mentally with this baggage. Over the last few months, I’ve avoided running blogs more and more frequently. I’ve been avoiding Facebook in ever increasing quantities. I actively cut out stuff that bothers me. Now I’m trying to turn my attention in life to non-exercise, non-weight management hobbies and pursuits. I guess this is just a long, roundabout way of saying: being not good is not the same as being bad.
Anyone else cut out stuff they find somewhat burdensome?