My Fit Prime Minister (Guest Post)

So Justin did it again and “photobombed” an event. This time, he was “caught” running through a group of teens taking prom pictures in Vancouver. Another time, and as referenced in that CBC article, he had “photobombed” wedding pictures, shirtless that time (why not in Vancouver Justin? Oh well).

Why all the quotation marks you will ask? Well one line caught my eye in the CBC article. Adam Scotti, photographer to the prime minister, tweeted his pic of Justin running through the crowd, supposedly unnoticed by the teens.

So this was not as impromptu as it is meant to look. It is not as if Justin just decided to go for a run, on his own (which is what the earphones are meant to suggest), just like you and I leave the house and may run into a gathering of teens or a wedding photo shoot. The photographer to the prime minister was there and probably some security people, or one would hope. This is all part of an operation to make us swoon over Justin and how much of a people person he is. That he is that is not debatable especially if we contrast with many other politicians, including our previous prime minister. But there is a lot of fabrication that goes into these images.

However, that is not my point today. I have been meaning to write on how public figures, including politicians and country leaders, impact our perception of the importance of exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This article in my Twitter feed this morning made me do it. So here it is.

Yes I will continue to swoon over Justin, not because of his good looks and charm, but because he keeps healthy habits and does look fit. He exercises regularly and obviously values a healthy lifestyle. His yoga buff wife, Sophie Grégoire, also appears to hold the same values (why the shoes Justin?).

Our prime minister runs, boxes (Guest blogger Rebecca Kukla even boxed with Justin as reported here), does yoga, planks on random counters or tables, etc. He is one active guy!

I swoon over Justin for such things just like I did for Michelle and Barack Obama when I would come across pictures of them engaging in fitness activities. I certainly aspire to be as strong as the former First Lady.

In Quebec, Dr. Gaétan Barrette, the minister of health, was quite heavily criticized and very badly mocked for his weight. The amount of fat shaming that occurred was simply appalling. Since 2012, Barrette has lost a lot of weight. He has explained that this was a challenge he took with his son who appeared to be following his path toward obesity and they both engaged in a radical lifestyle change involving changes to nutritional habits. The change is major as one can see.

People have congratulated the minister of health over this change. He appears to be healthier and this may be even more important for him in a leadership role as minister of health. Now we know that size is no measure of health (many posts on this blog have discussed this).

But that a leader would appear to value a healthy lifestyle by adopting an exercise regimen and good nutritional habits seems to matter to people. When one does not, as Barrette presumably used to and especially in his role, he became a target of criticism. Now fat shaming is never right and he was the victim of a lot of that. I am happy to read that he did not engage in his lifestyle change in response to that. But this example can inspire others.

I use the word example with caution here. “Before and after” pictures often serve to shame individuals who appear more like the “before” picture and serve to point to their “failure” to achieve an “after” look. But I do think that active, fit looking and presumably healthy leaders can serve as role models to populations who are subjected to the flow of pictures of these leaders. It may inspire people to engage in a bit more activity, even just for the fun of it.

I would be interested to read a study that would look into the correlation between the level of physical activity engagement in the population and that of their political leaders and whether a fit leader directly impacts fitness choices by the population. Similarly, a study that would also correlate the pursuit of healthy nutritional habits between the population and its leaders would be interesting as well. This, in light of reports of Trump’s predilection for junk food, may be worrisome for a population that has been struggling with health issues for a long time.

Did things improve under the Obamas? I don’t know and 8 years might be too short a period to tell. Will a fit Justin make us all fitter and possibly healthier Canadians? Maybe. In the meantime, I will continue to swoon and be inspired.

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