Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 76 of 365: What's Your Excuse?

Yesterday I had a fit modeling gig. Not to be confused with fitness modeling. Fit models essentially try on samples for the designers so they can make adjustments before they have a finished product. We are there to see how the clothing fits.

This was actually the first time I had ever dealt with fit modeling. I got the email and expected that I would be doing fitness modeling. So I made sure to get a good gym run in before the gig, only to be trying on slacks and dresses. If anything, working out was to my detriment, as my muscles were slightly swollen. Great if you're trying to show off killer legs and bad-ass abs. Not so great when you are suddenly an inch bigger than your measurements (as one of the ladies continuously pointed out *sigh*).

The misunderstanding of fit/fitness reminded me of an article I read recently, about a woman who had to apologize after releasing an ad. In it, she kneels by her three beautiful sons, aged 3, 2, and 8 months. She wears nothing but a sports bra and bike shorts, showing off her incredibly toned body. Above her is the caption, "What's Your Excuse?"

The woman has been under fire for "bullying" and "fat-shaming". And I just cannot get it. Yes, usually when you see a thin woman on an advertisement, the message is, "Being unrealistically skinny is important and the only way to live life." As a size 6 model who gets turned down for work because she's not skinny enough, I recognize how damaging the onslaught of girls with 16 BMIs on your television sets can be.

But here's the thing: she never said, "Why are you fat?" or "Why aren't you as skinny as me?" She simply asked: what is your excuse. This is a mother of three, with a full-time job, who is in incredible shape. Not just skinny. Muscular. Fit. Athletic. To me, seeing a woman proudly display her muscles isn't saying that it's time to get skinny. She's saying it's time to stop with the excuses and be healthy.

I know it's out of vogue to call obesity for what it is. But let's call a spade a spade: no one is better off getting obese. People come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. We're slender, husky, curvy, lanky, etc, etc. And "healthy" is going to look a lot different on each of those people.

But that's the thing: healthy. They can get from Point A to Point B without getting out of breath. Their blood pressure isn't making their doctors sweat. They are active and they eat right (and in the right amounts). And, let's be blunt: people aren't healthy. If you're lucky, you find someone who goes to the gym 2 or 3 times a week. But still eats way too much junk. Or sometime who watches what they eat and considers taking the stairs instead of the elevator their "workout for the day" (and hey, avoiding the elevator is a great way to add a little exercise in, but it is not a standalone exercise).

I respect the hell out of people who say that they struggle in a society where most jobs involve a lot of sitting and most grocery stores carry a whole lot lard and salt. What I don't respect, however, are people who sit back and complain about how "this is just what people look like now," and how we as a society, have to accept it. Mhmm. Sure. Let me tell the people in Europe (where obesity rates are as low as 8% in some countries) that this is just how things are now.

And, obviously, no one should be treated unfairly, no one should be ridiculed, simply because of their bodies. Everyone deserves respect, regardless of age, creed, skin color, weight, and so on. But that doesn't mean we have to shy away from any message that promotes putting in that extra bit of work to be healthy. The advertisement was for every person who never exercised because, "I'm too busy," or "I'm stressed out." If you don't work out because being in shape isn't a priority for you, then hey, your life, your prerogative. I ain't here to change that. But, like the ad suggests, most excuses don't justify an unhealthy lifestyle.

But that's the problem: you suggest getting in shape, you suggest eating right, and suddenly you're "fat-shaming". As if making the body a little more efficient turns you into the Cheer Choreographer from Bring It On. What a terrible world we live in where we ignore the concept of treating everyone fairly, while lashing out at those who weren't being unfair in the first place.

Like with politics, you don't have to be a fitness nut to want to eat a little better and get out a little more. And it's not fat-shaming to advise others to attempt a healthier life as well. Personally, I can only hope I have enough drive to ignore the excuses after I have children and get into as incredible shape as this woman did.

(BTW, I emailed the main designer, apologizing for the change in my measurements. He seemed unfazed by the whole thing, so hopefully I didn't burn a bridge by burning some calories)

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