Sunday, April 14, 2013

Perpetuating Beauty Myths

As I am currently playing the invalid (thank you, now missing wisdom teeth), I have a lot of spare time on my hands. Unfortunately my head is still aching a lot, so this doesn't allow me to do much of anything useful with my sick time. It does, however, give me the opportunity to feed my already substantial Pinterest addiction.

As I was scrolling through pins today, I felt like I was getting bombarded. There were all these "healthy", "helpful" pins telling me about this or that one magic solution that would take me from frumpy ugly duckling to hot belle of the ball.

My first reaction was (sadly) "Wow, maybe I should give some of these a try". Fortuitously, my second reaction was more on the lines of "What the hell?". The thing is... I know the danger behind these seemingly helpful pins. I know (and can see) that most of the photos are photo-shopped, I know that dieting in that way is actually quite unhealthy for you. I also know that quick fixes are useless and ineffective.

So here are my tips to keep in mind when looking at "fitspo" or "thinspo" on Pinterest, Tumblr, anywhere really.

1) Is it healthy? - I mean this really and truly. Is this a healthy change that will prolong and enhance my quality of life? If not, it's not worth your time.

2) is it unrealistic? - I see way too many pins out there photoshopped to make grown women look like prepubescent girls. We are WOMEN. We're all different shapes and sizes, but usually this involves hips, boobs, thighs, and YES no digitally altered thigh-gap!

3) If you actually are looking to make a healthy change to your life, why are you on Pinterest? - Our first step should not be to look up thumbnail images with "tips" from random strangers. Living healthy is simple, but it's not a quick fix. Eat the right foods (I.e., whole foods, not processed "health foods"), get regular exercise. Repeat for a lifetime. It can be that simple. Also, if you really are concerned about your weight as a health issue, please, please, please contact your doctor. Just like we teach kids not to take candy from strangers, we need to teach ourselves not to take health advice from strangers with no medical training.

Last but not least: I would encourage anyone I know on Pinterest, Tumblr, or similar sites to unfollow fitspo and thinspo feeds. While these position themselves as helpful and healthy, they can be so damaging to our self-esteem, self-worth and project images of unobtainable "perfection".

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