Today’s post was inspired by a video I ran into on the Today Show website called “Look like an Olympian: Get thighs like Gretchen Bleiler.”
My first reaction was: Holy crap, now I need the thighs of someone who performs at the highest level of elite sport?
It seems like a tall order, no?
The piece just gave me one thing to do, though. Simple, right? I guess, after watching the video, if I dedicate my time and do some “single leg hamstring holds” (are the boots with the heel required?) I will have Olympian-esque thighs.
Besides being ridiculous–I don’t think all the single leg hamstring holds in the world will give you the thighs of someone who spends hours upon hours on a snowboard and in the gym–I’m more troubled by the fact that this was part of a series on Today’s website called “Look Like An Olympian”. One week it’s the thighs of so and so, another it’s the legs of a different athlete or the abs of someone else. Since one athlete’s body isn’t good enough, we should pick and choose the best of each to come up with an ideal we can all strive for.
That sounds reasonable…not.
This series makes me uncomfortable for a few reasons. We get what’s supposed to give us a taste of these Olympians’ workout routine or what gives them the perfect body (part) but this all comes without mention of the part of it all where they train for an Olympic sport. As their job.
While I’m all for setting big goals (“Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!), I don’t think looking like an Olympian is the best use of our collective athletic ambition. If you want to be like an Olympian, I’d be more impressed if you were focused on performing at a high level. I have a feeling you’d giggle at the prospect of expecting yourself to be as good at snowboarding as Gretchen Bleiler, but it’s normal—largely thanks to series and media like this, I’d argue—to think it’s reasonable to expect yourself to look like her or to have her thighs. To me, that’s a lot of (unnecessary) pressure.
For whatever reason, my thoughts go to young girls who might see this kind of thing. When looking at someone as badass as an Olympic snowboarder, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if girls were encouraged to be that awesome instead of looking that awesome. The same goes for women’s fitness magazines that talk about toning and firming up our bodies and feature pictures of women posing or showing off a hot body in a bikini rather than talking about lifting more weight or running faster alongside images of women actually working out or doing something physical. I think that the more we can put the emphasis on the actual performance and take the focus off of aesthetics, the healthier our collective body image will be.
What do you think about series like this?
Do you ever look up how celebrities or athletes “get” their bodies? Ever tried their routine?
Do you think an aesthetics obsessed culture affects collective body image?