We’re a fitness blog but some of our most popular posts are about body image.
Sometimes even I wonder, why do we care so much about body image?
Can’t we just set body image aside and focus on sports performance and fitness more generally?
And then a story like this one crosses my newsfeed and I remember.
Women are less likely than men to become active because of body image and competency fears, according to Sport England research.
The research revealed there was a significant gender gap, with two million fewer women than men in the 14-40 age range regularly participating in sport.
“One of the strongest themes was a fear of judgement. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and again.
Body image is connected to fitness in a variety of ways.It’s both the motivation for lots of women to pursue physical activity. I’ll solve my body image issues by improving my body!
Body image anxiety is also the reason lots of women don’t exercise. I can’t go to the gym. I’m too fat!
Both of these sets of motivations are problematic.
I worry about women who miss out on the health benefits and the joy that comes from physical activity either because they mistakenly think they’re thin and don’t need to exercise, or they think they are too fat to be seen out in public, or they start, and don’t lose weight, and so quit because they think getting thin is the sole point of exercise.
So while I’d like to separate out body image and self esteem from athletic performance and joyful movement, our culture makes that nearly impossible.