Will Looking at Images of Fit Women Help Black Women to Become Healthy?

What is Fitspiration?

Based on what I have read online, “fitspiration” or “fitspo” is the process of creating, collecting, watching, and reading things that will inspire you to become physically fit. It can include collecting photos of fit women, making and watching videos, collecting and sharing inspirational quotes, and creating inspirational online posters combining images and quotes. I’m talking only about fitspiration not “thinspiration” where girls/women collect and share images and quotes of underweight women to support their eating disorder. This post is NOT about thinspiration or that pro-ana stuff, fat acceptance, or feminism. It’s about inspiring yourself to become really fit using motivational images.

So I have decided (once again) that I want to become one of those really fit people and lose 20-30 pounds to look my best and be healthy (Whatever the reason you have for eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, the results are still going to be the same…better health and better looks. So no need to fuss about why you want to do it, just do it!). So, along with calisthenics, I plan to do 10,000 steps on the treadmill daily while I watch something on the computer. But I wanted to watch something inspiring instead of just TV shows and movies.

So I thought it might be helpful to look at fitspiration videos! I collected a bunch of them on YouTube…actually I collected over 170 that adds up to 8 hours of video! I started exercising and watching the videos and noticed there were very few Black women in them. So I searched for some with Black women and only came up with a handful. This is not a complaint post and I am just as motivated looking at non-Black women. It motivates me because by eating right and exercising I will be a fit, slimmer version of myself, able to run better and dance better, and I will healthier. I will be a part of the same lifestyle even though I don’t look exactly like them. I don’t get fixated on seeing someone looking exactly like me or “trying to be someone else”, I’m more motivated by the control, dedication, attitude, and proof that a healthy lifestyle is possible and beneficial. I think it’s important to visualize your goals and constantly be reminded about them.

Would Black Women Benefit from More Fitspiration?

I’m wondering if BW seeing more fitspiration would inspire them to become healthier and fitness-minded? Maybe because a lot of the BW we see around us and in the media are overweight, or just not involved in fitness, maybe that makes us think it’s not a lifestyle for us (i.e., fitness is for White people). Maybe if there were more of us in Nike commercials that would actually make a difference (I’m just not into looking like Serena). Maybe if we were in more of the fitness and healthy eating commercials and magazines then we would think that lifestyle was for us. No, I’m not using this to start a petition of athletic/fitness/health product companies, I am using it to understand why BW may not think about diets, healthy eating, and becoming gym rats the way White women do. If it’s due to lack of media images then I’ll have to collect those images myself and expose myself to them! I’ll have to frequent fitness websites and videos regardless of race and have this lifestyle etched into my consciousness so that I want to achieve it all day every day.

I accept that 99% of the young women who make fitspo videos are White so they choose other White women for their videos so that doesn’t bother me and I won’r complain to them. Could it also be the case that they couldn’t find many images of fit Black models (e.g., bikini models, fitness models, dancers etc.)? The collected images are from magazines and advertisements posted online, or even photos fit women take of themselves so maybe there are just not many images of fit Black women available? My first instinct was to search Google images, Tumblr, and Pinterest to find images and make my own videos. But I changed my mind because there are a lot of things I want to do so I’ll leave it up to someone else for now..hint hint! Below are two examples of Black fitspo videos and I prefer the first one. Here are two examples of  White Fitspo videos:  video1 and video2. I didn’t make any of these videos and they have some images I don’t like too, but they are good enough :)

 

By a man who likes fit Black women!

 

I wasn’t inspired by this video. This might be by a man too!

 

There were a few videos of fit Black women, but when I compared the Black videos to the White videos there were some differences that made them less motivating to me and possibly a turn off to some women:

1) The Black videos featured a lot of body builders who were way to muscular and this would turn off any woman who doesn’t want to look like that. On the other hand most of the the White videos had some fitness models (slimmer with less muscles) or women who looked like models and dancers.

2) The Black videos  featured a lot of athletes especially track stars during competitions so they were not made up, with their hair done, posing to look perfect, or perhaps Photoshopped. So a physically attractive BW with some extra pounds might actually think she looks better than the fitspiration women. The White videos had more professional models looking their best, in the most flattering poses, and probably Photoshopped to make them look even more perfect. They had attractive bodies AND faces unlike in the Black videos.

3) The most motivating and attractive Black women were actually featured in videos made by MEN for MEN and not labeled fitspiration! I could tell that the White thinspiration videos were made by women. The male influence may bother some women (it doesn’t bother me though).

4) On the positive side, many of the White videos had women who were very underweight and celebrities who have reported having eating disorders so I don’t want to watch those videos. Fortunately I didn’t see any such women in the Black videos so that’s a good thing.

For the Fitspiration Critics

I don’t know if fitspiration is right or wrong, but it exists and I think it will help me. Some people don’t like fitspiration (e.g., those who only support “self-motivation” with no looking at other people for inspiration to do anything, and those against trying to improve your physical appearance for any reason. For example article1 and article2…objectification blah blah blah). Others think it’s obsessive and are fearful that if they start dieting, eating healthy, or working out that they will become addicted and end up with anorexia or doing crazy things to get thin. Others feel bad about themselves when they see fitspo because they think it is impossible to achieve and don’t see the value of even trying. So if you are fragile, have a history of eating disorder, know you have the tendency to go overboard and do crazy things, and if fitspo makes you hate yourself then it’s definitely not right for you. But for those of us who know they will never try to starve themselves, don’t want to look like waifs, and trust themselves to not go overboard, then fitspiration may be a helpful tool to help you achieve your fitness goals. Different things work for different people and personally, I just don’t fear I will get an eating disorder the way other women seem to, I just don’t feel that pressure. It doesn’t make me feel bad because I know I can do it and I have in the past so it’s attainable. I don’t think “fitspiration is something only White girls do and they all have eating disorders”. I think to myself, ‘A lot of White girls and other people seem to be able to keep their weight down and are into healthy eating and fitness. They seem to be getting benefits for their actions so maybe I should get some of those benefits for myself! If it works for them maybe it will work for me and if they can do it, then I can do it because they are not better than me.’

Some BW will insist that BW are genetically predisposed to be fat, being thin is Eurocentric so Black women shouldn’t bother with it, and you can be fit and fat etc. I don’t listen to that stuff because it will sabotage my goals of being super fit and hot! I’m just going to believe that we’re overweight because we are too sedentary, eating too much convenient but unhealthy and calorie dense processed food, and eating restaurant food too often (if it was just genes then BW in the 60s, 70s, and 80s would have the same weight problems we have today). Cut all of those things out and the weight will come off. I choose to believe that and work to get in shape rather than complaining, thinking I’m supposed to be overweight, or not doing anything.

Note. This is one woman’s opinion. Please don’t fear that this one post will suddenly make all Black girls anorexic and permanently self-loathing. Remember if you read fitness magazines, do exercise DVDs, or see commercials, or see fit people around you (e.g., at the gym), then you are being exposed to fitspo! So I didn’t really introduce you to something new. From reading this site I’ve learned that some Black women really want to see positive role models who have their skin tone, and they are only motivated by those media images, so this post is in line with that thinking. The post was about looking at photos of fit women that other people have posted online. But if you don’t want to look at them you don’t have to. If you don’t want to get fit you don’t have to.

Online Weight Lost Tools, Fitspiration Sites, and Related Articles

My Fitspiration Playlist (I haven’t watched all the videos so save the playlist to your own account and edit out the ones that you don’t like and those that have unhealthy images).

Zuzana Light (formerly on BodyRock TV, she motivates me like crazy)

Sparkpeople.com (free fitness and meal tracking with many features, cell phone app available)

http://blacknfit.tumblr.com/ (not bad but it included men)

Black women do work out 

Fit is the new black

http://fitspiration.tumblr.com/

http://pinterest.com/theniceblog/fitspiration/

http://pinterest.com/jbeard1/fitspiration/

Google images for Black women fitspo

The miseducation of fitspo: Why these sites can help you meet your goals