Nicole and Christine have reactions to this article: “I Want to Look Damn Good When the World Sees Me Again”.

Sam shared this Atlantic article with the FIFI bloggers “I Want to Look Damn Good When the World Sees Me Again”. Nicole and Christine have some thoughts.

Nicole: I Want to Be Happy and Healthy When the World Sees Me Again

It’s been a year. While the end of the tunnel seems to have some unpredictable forks in the road, some people are starting to make plans for the other side of it. Me, I’m treading cautiously. I have been trying to take the approach of “one day at a time”. I’m not always successful. I can’t help but notice that a third wave was just declared in Ontario. That our vaccination roll-out leaves a lot to be desired. I’m also worried about people’s behaviour once some are vaccinated, but others are not. I see myself sticking close to home still for quite awhile. I’m still worried that everyone stay healthy and COVID-free.

Part of the author’s thesis is that he used to be fairly “healthy” based on his outward appearance and that he’d like to regain some of that outward appearance before he re-joins society. He describes getting back into fitness recently. Yay! I have no problem with getting back into fitness.

He goes on to describe the increased interest some fitness trainers have described to him about wanting to get back to that beach bod. That it’s heightened this year. This assures him that he’s not the only one who’s self absorbed.

Look, we are all a bit vain. That may look different for different people. I may not be proud of myself for it, but I am concerned about how I look in Teams meetings and would like to maintain a youthful glow that is probably not realistic.

The thing that bothers me is that focussing on getting that “beach bod” (which we all have, by the way because we have a bod, and just need to find a beach), is the idea that this translates to healthy, which it does not. He seems to have missed the memo that YOU CANNOT TELL HOW HEALTHY OR FIT A PERSON IS BY HOW THEY LOOK.

Teal font on white background: “Reminder: “strong” doesn’t have a look. Neither does “fit”. People who work out look all kinds of ways. from @it’sjennaj

The author does go on to include information about how focussing on weight, shame, etc., is typically not going to help people reach their goals and he realizes he may be more likely to be drinking a six-pack, than having one, at the end of this, but that his routine has made him feel less shlubby and better about his future self.

But he doesn’t really mean it, based on the title (or the accompanying photo of him looking at his penis while working out, but that may be the editor’s choice, not his).

Photo from linked article of grey (or blond?) haired man laying on red exercise mat with legs open, knees up, head up and a dumbbell in each hand, as if about to do a form of a chest press (while gazing at his penis).

I am one of the lucky ones, whose situation in the last year has allowed me to maintain my regular workouts. It has helped maintain my sense of wellness. It gives me my regular dose of endorphins. That doesn’t mean I don’t have days of sadness, lethargy, frustration at the world. And, the one thing that has kept me working out regularly for the last 20 years, not just through this pandemic, is by focussing on how movement and exercise makes me feel, not how it makes me look. It’s the only thing that has mattered over time.

At the end of this pandemic, when I can meet my friends in restaurants again, and go to my parents’ condo, go INSIDE, and give them both hugs, hang out with my nephews on couches again, I promise you that what I care about most, is that I feel happy and healthy. Not whether my abs are toned or my pants are smaller.

A photo of Nicole with her mother, youngest nephew and husband, pre-pandemic, close together in a restaurant.

Christine: I will Not Play Along with the Messages of How I *Should* Look.

My first reaction to this article was based on the title and the photo alone… I fear that I may have sprained something during my reflexive eyeroll.

The actual article was far better than I expected but it still makes me sad and frustrated to have this appearance-based framing for fitness and exercise.

I get that we live in a society where appearance matters far more than is good for us. This isn’t about any one person being vain or foolish, it’s much bigger than that, and we all have to participate in the society that exists while we work to create change. I know that some people work in industries where their appearance is, unfortunately, a bigger factor in their employability.

A photo collage of a Zoom meeting filled with smiling faces. (We included this because they look so happy and, of course, we hope they are avoiding the pressures described in this article.)

But, that being said, I think it is good to be aware of when we are buying into those social pressures. And I think those of us who are aware should be more conscious of our framing when we are talking about fitness and wellness.

The only way we are going to change things is by fighting back against the social pressures around appearance. It’s not one person’s job to force those changes but our individual actions matter and they will, eventually, add up to social change.

Two Black women walking briskly with big smiles on their faces.

I appreciate that the author brought some differently framed perspectives into this piece but I think a different framing overall would have been beneficial AND, I wish that the publication had chosen a different headline, at the very least.

My fitness levels during the pandemic have been pretty much the same as they always have been. I am consistent in my search for consistency. My fitness challenges aren’t pandemic-related, they are ADHD-related and I’m still figuring them all out.

One thing I know, though, is that how I look to other people is not a factor for me.

I am not a decoration.

I am not here to be looked at.

And I will not play along with the messages of how I *should* look.

My fitness concerns start and end with how I feel, how strong I can become, and whether I can improve how effectively my body responds when I ask it to do something.

…You know, I’m beginning to suspect that I was not the target audience for this piece. 😉

Nicole P. lives in Toronto with her husband and two dogs and enjoys working out for how it adds to her overall sense of wellness.
A selfie of a white woman with chin-length light brown hair. She is smirking but in a friendly way.
Christine H. is a 3rd degree black belt in ITF Taekwondo and likes any movement that contributes to her commitment to fun.

6 thoughts on “Nicole and Christine have reactions to this article: “I Want to Look Damn Good When the World Sees Me Again”.

  1. I don’t care what you look like. Frankly, you don’t even have to be healthy and happy. It’s been a rough year and it’s okay to be sick and sad. You don’t owe anyone looking a certain away and you don’t owe them health and happiness either. With permission, I plan on hugging all of you, whatever shape you’re in, on the other side of all this.

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