Do You Even Lift, Bro?

Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I have seen more images of friends flexing than I ever imagined. When I got my first iPhone in late 2012, I quickly grew accustomed to swiping past images of gourmet cupcakes and food trucks. Now those posts have come up less and less, inversely mimicking the frequency of pictures related to the gym. This is clearly not, in itself, bad. Hell yeah, if you have the determination to commit to working out, go you! Personally, I don’t have that drive. I’ve never felt my fitness-minded friends thought less of me for this, but I was curious how the other weightlifters felt about my lifestyle.

The first thing that came to my mind to search on Instagram was #doyouevenliftbro. The images that came up (for the most part) were expected: daily motivation to pump iron, selfies en route to the gym, people sharing their progress along their path to their ideal form. All totally positive and uplifting stuff. However, sprinkled in like a dusting of Comet on a salad were some corrosive images that made parts of my insides hurt – mostly my heart. Aside from a smaller percentage of images geared towards women, the majority of these bully-tactic-embracing posts were attacking men. I took a few screen shots of some real zingers, and I don’t want to spoon feed you what is innately upsetting about them, but I would be happy to put a little on your lips to give you a taste.

fit1
I belong to a school of thought that believes no form of exercise is worse than another. I also believe no sexual orientation is worse than another. So, to the kind soul who put this  together “Why did something so useless have to come into existence?”
fit2
Speaking from personal experience, this has never happened to me. Not even even a gag reflex. What is vomit-enducing is the concept that anyone should think it’s okay to be sickened by another human being’s body. This is no better than telling full-figured women their bodies repulse men and despite constant scrutiny about women’s bodies, who is it helping to turn the disapproving glances back on men?
fit3
A female posted this, which always hits a little closer to home for me, being female. Not only is she reminding us that women must be smaller and weaker than men, but that men who cannot lift a human being above them are a discredit to their gender. I, myself, have a wonderful boyfriend who is certainly everything he needs to be to fulfill the role I’ve given him in my life, despite my assumption that he could not use me for the same purpose served by a metal pole and some weights.

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Initially, I was confused about what message this was sending, but no matter the context, it was still awful. A male posted this, so one could draw the assumption he’s speaking to his significant other. Is he forcing her to participate in his lifestyle? If so, that’s not cool. Fitness is totally cool if it is your choice, but waking another person from their sleep – also a healthy activity – to force them to be fit on your schedule is no one’s place. She is not your pet hamster that you dig out of her hut when you want to play with her; she has a life of her own as well as the ability to make choices for herself. Maybe he’s not going to the gym with her though. So he’s saying her body isn’t to his standard, which is also reason to tell him to GTFO. That body belongs to her. If she wants it to be fit, she can do it on her own without you interfering with her body and mind resting.

My browsing session through all these [mostly] motivational pictures was pretty disheartening due to these corrosive few. The struggle with body image is not gender specific, and while women are more vocally fighting all the noise around them, men are still being quietly broken down and excluded from “normalcy.” But with the last image of Sleeping Beauty, there is also the dangerous undercurrent of a more metaphoric Prince Charming. Is his voice one of the bodiless whispering in her ear saying her body isn’t beautiful? And is she trying to wake herself up to fulfill that pressure to conform to “prince charming’s” ideal? These pervasive thoughts are the hardest to eliminate, but every voice that makes you fell less than what you are needs to be silenced, too. It is wonderful to be healthy, but believing you are better than someone else due to a difference in lifestyle is not wonderful in the least.
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