The self-portraits are everywhere on the internet – close-ups taken, often in front of one’s own mirror, of a person’s legs, chest, abs, backs, bums, and arms.
Some of them are of women who are lean and ripped. These are ladies who are dedicated to obtaining a certain aesthetic and working hard to get there.
Others are as “before” and “after” shots showcasing someone’s weight loss progress. And people nod their heads and applaud each person’s courage and body transformation.
And while I do not want to diminish anyone’s hard work and achievements, I have to go on record with this:
The ‘off with her head’ approach to documenting fitness progress is dehumanizing.
It is pictures like these that promote the message that people are just parts meant to be ogled instead of a whole entity, body and soul. These photos create a sense of normalcy around the objectification of women. After all, people will argue, it’s the women themselves drawing attention to their breasts, their stomachs, and, of course, their derrieres.
It is pictures like these that continue a cycle of unnecessary judgments, drawing women into feeling less than or better than those showcased in the photographs. For every nasty comment that someone leaves on a posted picture, there are that many more who didn’t take the time to write it down for all to see.
And it is pictures like these that keep us from paying attention to our body’s physical cues- too focused on aesthetics to listen when our bodies are telling us they need change. Change in our routine, our diets, our movements, and most importantly, change in our thinking.
It’s not to say that fitness progress shouldn’t be documented – a picture is often worth a thousand words – but why not photograph the whole instead of just the parts?
There is so much value in showcasing a woman’s face – her eyes, her smile, her glow. When a woman makes a physical transformation, it’s more than just less fat and more muscle. It shows in every part of her and it is much more inspiring when the pictures showcasing accomplishments also feature a smiling face, because it paints a whole picture of her.
Enough with “off with her head.” Next time you reach for your smart phone or your camera, hand it over to a friend to take a full body shot, or take the picture in a mirror that will let people see the entirety of your progress.
Take a picture that will allow people to see the entirety of your pride.