Why Our Fit Culture is Killing Little Girls

I was recently in a conversation with a beautiful 12 year old girl, in which she told me she was on a diet. I told her she didn’t need to be. But, then I asked her why. She continued to tell me how she is fat. She sat there trying to convince me that she has a fat stomach and she is the biggest out of all of her friends.

It broke my heart. As a 12 year old her spirit is starting to break. She already doesn’t see the truth about her own body. She already doesn’t believe her worth and beauty. All she sees is that she is fatter than all of her friends. At the moment, I wish that she could have just seen what I saw. I wish she could have seen that she is 12 years old, with so much more growth. I wish she could see that she is tiny, that being on a diet could be so detrimental to her very core. I wish she could see that she is so beautiful, in the way she giggles. In her shyness. In the way she can’t help but show how she feels.

But instead, all she saw is how “fat” she is compared to her friends.

And honestly, I think that our fit culture is to blame.

Our culture, in beauty, in fitness, in “health” sets ridiculous standards. I know we’ve all heard it before: the magazine photos are airbrushed, the models don’t even look like themselves, and they have to strictly reduce calories / expend thousands of calories during exercise to look like that. Yeah, yeah…we’ve heard it all before. Yet we still do it. FYI: a six-pack should not be the only goal we have in health and fitness.

But, what about our social media? How many times do we see the best AND worst of fitness/health individuals on social media? How many times do fit accounts show themselves with a little bit of bloat? Or cellulite? Or imperfect toned arms?

How many times do we guilt ourselves into working out? How many times do we feel guilty about not working out? Or eating that chocolate? How many times do we just plain guilt ourselves?

How many times do we consider that there are 12 year old little girls watching us?

Because guess what? Little girls ARE watching us.

They are watching our obsession with calories. They are watching our obsession with being skinny. They are watching the way we talk about our bodies. And then…they are going and doing the Exact. Same. Thing.

And they are not even OUR children. But, don’t we have a responsibility to show them otherwise.

Do we not have a responsibility to encourage ourselves, other women, and the little girls in our life? Do we not have a responsibility to look past the cellulite, toned or not toned arms, and the bare face? Do we not have a responsibility to combat negative thoughts with positive ones? Do we not have a responsibility to be honest about what really happens in our life? Like how I went on a road trip the other day and ordered French fry’s (*gasp*).

See, the thing that really upsets me, is that we continue to see the problems, but we’re not doing anything about it. And on the way, we’re killing little girls.

These little girls are growing up worried about how they can look like the models of their favorite clothing brand. They are worried about how they can look like the models on these fitspo Instagram accounts. (By the way, I don’t know any 12-13 year old that doesn’t have at least ONE social media account). They believe the things that we say about our bodies, and they relate that to how they view their bodies.

So, I propose a change. Let’s teach ourselves what fitness should really look like: getting stronger, challenging ourselves, accomplishing new goals so that we can be strong women. Let’s love our bodies enough to eat healthy. Let’s teach ourselves what the proper foods are to fuel our daily lives. Let’s love each other enough to sometimes get together over a cupcake and a coffee. Let’s learn balance, in yoga, and in our healthy/unhealthy choices. Let’s encourage each other, laugh, and tell one another that we are beautiful. May we remember that our beauty and worth comes from more than just our outward appearance, and that it is okay if we are not 5’10” with a thigh-gap and six pack. May we be honest about how we feel, but remember that sometimes what we’re feeling is a lie. Because in the end, a body without any fat won’t get me anywhere. But, a body that is strong and well-loved, will give me the energy to work hard, serve others, and love each and every day.

And while we change how we treat ourselves and other women, we will stop killing little girls. We will encourage them to love themselves also. We will teach them what real health looks like. We will encourage them to embrace love, imagination, and hard work. We will teach them how to properly treat their bodies. We will teach them that they ARE beautiful, every single day.

Because in the end, what will comparison do? Steal my joy. What will guilt do? Kill little girls. But, love and encouragement, that will build up a community of empowered women and girls that love ourselves and one another.

This is me. This is what I look like in my fitness journey right now. This is what my #realfitwomen selfie looks like. I’m not perfect in the eyes of the media, but I am where I am. I am strong. I can do push-ups. I can squat. I can do 30 minutes of HIIT cardio on the treadmill. But, more importantly than that, I am learning to love myself and my body. And that’s what I want to teach others. I want to do a series on Real Fit Women, featuring everyday women that love themselves and their bodies. If you would like to be featured, shoot me an email! I want to feature you.

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Let’s make a change in our fit culture. It starts with us, and then we can build up our future generations. Let them see that the best thing they can do is love and encourage themselves, choose a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and choose to be strong. Because no matter what, they are watching us. So, what are we going to teach them?

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