Body Image

Lately on the Facebook page, we’ve introduced a new campaign by LIFT BIG EAT BIG to showcase varying body types in the same outfit. Photos are sent in by heavy-lifting participants which are then contrasted with the standard model body type, wearing the same articles of clothing.

While most have received this campaign with open arms and dropped jaws, there has inevitably been some negativity from certain members of this community, who feel that comparing body types is wrong, and that all body types are acceptable.

To quote one of my athletes : This is LIFT BIG EAT BIG, not “go jogging and eat twigs & berries.”

There seems to be a misconception that LBEB is diametrically opposed to skinny people. This couldn’t be further from the truth. For example, here are a few skinny individuals that I coach on a personal basis or are contributors to the site:

Bok Choi, my 108lb athlete

The difference with these woman is that while they are skinny, they are a healthy skinny. There is an immense difference between being a naturally skinny person who is still very strong or fit, and a person who goes to unhealthy lengths in order to maintain a job in the modeling industry. Sorry, but anyone who believes all fashion or runway models are healthy, are misguided. It’s no secret that many designers expect models to be walking hangers–which in turn leads to models developing dangerous habits to satisfy that goal. Obviously there are exceptions and some models are healthy, but that is rare.

To quote Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel: “No one wants to see curvy women. You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying thin models are ugly. Fashion is about dreams and illusions.”

~Source: Focus magazine

I believe that quote sums up what LBEB is opposed to quite nicely. The issue is that people look at photos of models who are not only dangerously skinny (a 23 inch waist on a woman of 5′ 10″?) but also heavily photoshopped, further adding to the unattainable body image that so many strive for.

To say that “maybe most models are naturally this skinny and they probably do exercise” would be playing the part of the fool. Both my wife and I have worked with the modeling industry and we have seen these unhealthy habits firsthand. Have you ever heard of dipping cotton balls in orange juice and swallowing them so you feel full, but aren’t actually getting nutrients? Then you should read this. While this is only one example, many other examples show up when you search for supermodel diet plans. Another popular one is the Victoria’s Secret Diet where models like Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio take on a liquid diet, while doing two-a-days at the gym. And let’s not forget that Alessandra was 2 months pregnant at the time of the fashion show.

Some have praised the efforts of a a select few agencies that demand that models maintain a certain weight, but these agencies are rare and are anything but the norm. In fact, there is STILL no minimum BMI guideline for models.

The average model used to weigh 8% less than the average woman in the 1970’s, now the average model weighs 23% less than the average woman. Most models qualify for anorexia, and not surprisingly, a size 6 is considered a plus size in the industry.

So, to say that LBEB is in the wrong for comparing two body types is ridiculous. What is ridiculous is to shove these images of extremely thin models down the throats of men and women everywhere, when these models are not designed to look like people, they are designed to look like mannequins to hang clothes on. We feel that it is much better to promote a healthy, attainable body type, and it is most effective when contrasted with the standard image of beauty that can be seen in online and print ads all across the globe.

One simply has to go on Pinterest or Tumblr to see images of “Thinspiration” feeds, where individuals post images of horribly anorexic “fitness models” with taglines such as “inspiration!!” and “OMG need this body for Summer.” Our goal is to steer women (and men) away from the need to aim for too thin, and have them instead aim for healthy. By posting these comparison photos, what we’re trying to do is show an alternative for the Thinspiration photos found everywhere. Again, thin is NOT bad if you’re healthy–however this is not the case with many models and the Thinspo photos.

We realize, that yes, these models are real people and need to be treated with compassion. However, this does not mean that we must emulate their unhealthy lifestyle, especially in an age of such oppressive advertising campaigns. LIFT BIG EAT BIG will continue to challenge the conventional norm of the healthy body image for men and women, and encourage ALL individuals to engage in heavy strength training.

If you are unable to accept this, then LIFT BIG EAT BIG is not the community for you.

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