Protein World and the ‘Strong is the New Skinny’ Culture

This week, Protein World have caused have caused a feminist backlash with their ‘Are You Beach Body Ready?’ posters around the London underground. It reminded me of this blog I wrote a while back about Instagram pictures and how it’s just not enough to be skinny these days.

This week, Protein World have caused have caused a feminist backlash with their ‘Are You Beach Body Ready?’ posters around the London underground. It reminded me of this blog I wrote a while back about Instagram pictures and how it’s just not enough to be skinny these days.

My hobbies are limited to following health and fitness accounts on Instagram while stuffing my face with pizza and guzzling wine. If only liking a picture of a girl’s impressive abs or firm booty burnt calories, eh?

As a result, my timeline is chocker with images of women that make me consider actually becoming one of those people that hashtag #fitfam and get excited about peanut butter. It’s also jam packed with sponsored posts for BooTea, just in case anyone left hasn’t yet seem all the D List celebrities pretending that downing tea makes you a size 8 for £100.

However, the kind of posts that are popping up more than the other above-mentioned ones are like the one below:

Apparently the figure on the left just isn't good enough.
Apparently the figure on the left just isn’t good enough.

Where to begin? Firstly, don’t bother checking out @Shredz for details – just come see me and I’ll tell you that the image of the right isn’t the result of a 30 day detox but better underwear, lighting and posture.

 

Think the image on the right is the result of diet and exercise? Wrong.
Think the image on the right is the result of diet and exercise? Wrong.

Myth busting: Melanie Ventura’s ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures were taken within 15 minutes of each other, with the personal trainer using tricks of the trade to give the impression she lost weight.

When I was going through puberty, resenting my big hips and short legs, the media was full of images of Nicole Ritchie battling her eating disorders, Paris Hilton being naturally rake thin and Mischa Barton at her skinniest. Rachel Zoe was accessorising half of Hollywood with bags that weighed more than their owners and everyone seemed to believe the mantra “Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels” (Not true by the way – carbs on a hangover taste better than everything.)

Fast forward a few years and we appear to have got over the idea that visible rib cages are something to aim for. Thin may not be so in anymore but it’s been replaced with “strong is the new skinny.” Young girls now don’t have to just be thin; you need muscle tone, abs, firm arses and develop a boring obsession with meal prepping. At least when I was at school our eating disorders simply involved skipping meals – we didn’t have to go to the effort to make protein shakes and all that.

My issue isn’t with women wanting to perfect and sculpt their bodies – that’s fine. Of course it’s better for a teenage girl to be interested in a healthy lifestyle rather than drugs and drink. I sometimes go through stages of being obsessed with working out myself. My concern is, young girls are now following these accounts on Instagram – social media is more influential than any celebrity magazine. I would hate to think anyone would look at the perfectly acceptable body on the left, think “that’s what I look like” and feel overweight.

Girls, stop thinking a tea or some pills is going to help you lose weight. Stop paying a fiver a week to go to a Weight Watchers meetings to be weighed. Stop buying low fat products of meals that are simply 2 quid dearer, jam packed with additives and other shit and only save you about 15 calories. Eat healthy meals, exercise regularly and don’t worry – that’s all you need to do.

Being happy in your own skin is far better than being miserable in a size six dress.

P.S Real women don’t have curves – real women have whatever fucking body type they want.

See also: “So How Many Cameras Are On You? Ten Mins on TV

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