The Kids are NOT OK

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“Deep breath. Don’t judge. You don’t know her. She’s not a client. You have no right to tell someone what to post online. You don’t have kids. You couldn’t possibly know the story behind this picture, if it’s fake or real. Don’t judge. Don’t judge. It’s just a kid…”

These are the thoughts going on right now in my mind. I don’t know who posted this. I believe it IS real and not photoshopped from the information I gathered from the original poster of this. *Updated to include that yes it IS real and it was posted by a father who promotes Herbalife. I saw pictures of his daughter and she indeed looks very fit.*

But, the fact that it was shared publicly makes me think I have the right to comment on it, right? Do I have the right to comment? Do any of us? I’m treading carefully here. This is no one I know personally. But it’s promoting a product I have no respect for. It’s using a child to do so and that makes me uncomfortable. When a regular person posts a photo like this on social media, I seriously question them. Do I have the right to do that? It’s on the internet. You put a picture of your child on the internet. It’s here forever, parent! I must first ask, okay WHY? She wanted to boast about her child’s transformation.

This child’s body transformation. And she’s a little girl. A little girl!!! I should be happy for her right?!? Right?! But why does a picture like this make me sick to my stomach?

Here are my issues, and I’m trying very hard not to judge this person. I just feel like a I need to voice my concerns.

  • When you post a picture like this of your small young child, who is your audience? Clearly parents of other children who might need to lose weight? Okay. I can sort of see that.
  • Why is she wearing a bikini in the first photo and then showing off her abs in the after? What message does that send to kids? Nevermind the parents for a second here…the kids. The young girls who look at this. I don’t know any 6 or 7 year old girls so I can’t ask them. Maybe they would be unphased. Maybe they would say “So what?!” But what if a young girl or boy looks at this and thinks, “My belly looks more like that picture on the left. Is that bad?”
  • I’m trying to overlook that this is promoting a product. A product I have ZERO respect for as a company. Spare me the nutritional value in Herbalife products. I do not care. It’s a pyramid scheme. But let’s say it’s NOT a pyramid scheme. Let’s say it’s just a super healthy smoothie. Heck, let’s take it a step further and take Herbalife out of it. Pretend the parent replaces “Herbalife” with “healthy fruits and vegetables and a balanced diet.” Would that change my opinion? Actually no, honestly. I have a problem with the PICTURE itself.
  • Why? I want to know why you feel the need to post your child’s transformation. Why are you using her like this? What happens if she loses that six pack Mom, Dad? Because, as we know as adults, to be that lean forever is a pipe dream. I don’t care if this girl turns out to be a gymnast or a dancer or star athlete. She will not look like that forever. How will she deal with that knowing you boasted about how great she looks now???

I want to cry for this little girl and I don’t even know her.

All I can say is please, to whoever this mother is, please don’t do this again. Please let Zoey go on doing whatever it is that she’s doing and please don’t boast. Be proud of her and tell her. But don’t tell the whole world (that my not have been your intention, maybe you just wanted to share this with a few friends on Facebook and it sparked a firestorm) but please understand that Social media spreads like wildfire.  I’m sure you didn’t intend to harm her or instigate anything with this picture. You’re just sharing. I get that, trust me I get it.

But please, everyone, think before you share pictures of your child. Body image issues and childhood obesity are serious concerns. And young people are so impressionable. We have to be realistic when it comes to setting expectations for our children and their health and their abilities. Obtaining a six pack is a pipe dream for the AVERAGE ADULT. If children think it’s EASY to accomplish this by just drinking shakes, they will be very disappointed when they realize it is not that simple.

And what kind of picture does that paint?

 

Fitness Idols

Where does the line between obsession with perfection and finally REACHING that level of perfection (at least in your own eyes) end?

When does achievement go from inspirational to boastful and bragging?

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Someone finally finds the formula for their success – and since I’m speaking about physical goals let’s keep the conversation to weight loss.  This person reaches their goal weight.  It took them a long time and lots of trial and error and now they are finally there.  SUCCESS!

They LOVE what they see in the mirror.  They LOVE that they can eat foods that are good for them while still finding the balance to allow themselves some “cheats.”  They purchase a new top, a new pair of jeans, heck a new WARDROBE and they might even snap some selfies and post them on Instagram or tweet out to their friends “Just fit into a size 4 jeans! Wow! YAY ME!”

Friends and family keep complimenting them “You LOOK amazing!  What’s your secret?”  So they tell them what they do and how they eat and what their workouts are like.  Maybe they start a blog or a FB page because everyone wants to know “How did you do it?  “I want to do what YOU did!  Tell me how!!”

This is all wonderful isn’t it?  What’s their next step?  They want to SHARE this knowledge.  They want you to follow them.  They want you to eat and drink what they eat and drink.   They tell you what they do everyday because after all, you asked for it.

Maybe you don’t know someone personally like this.  Maybe you know the more popular names.  Jillian Michaels, for example.  Or Bob Harper.  Or (insert famous celebrity spokesperson here). 😉

What does their website look like?  It has lots of buttons and icons on it right?

Subscribe to my newsletter!

Email me!

Follow me!

Pin me!

Tweet me!

Facebook me!

Instagram me!

Tag me!

So you do!  We all do.

So then the success stories get spread…and it’s fantastic!  What’s wrong with sharing the knowledge, right?

My problem, better yet, my opinion, is that this pursuit of “I want to look/be/act/ just like THAT person!” can become obsession to the point of idolatry.

Where is this in the fitness world?  Well, take a look at what we do these days.  And I am 100% guilty of this so I will use myself as the example:  I FOLLOW people and pages on social media.  I read every word they type in their status updates and tweets.

We each have our own ability to reach our goals.  We don’t have to rely on these idols.  I am torn because I find that some people I look up to (bordering on idolize) promote products that promise reaching this goal quicker.  And I don’t necessarily agree with that.  I feel like it’s manipulative.  And yes I’m speaking about the companies I mention in this post here.  But I’m not trying to pick a fight.  I also would put products like pre workout powders and post workout shakes in that category as well.  Of course weight loss pills, fat burners and any “quick fix” fad would also be lumped in there too.

Every product is a business out to make money and I get that.  Who wouldn’t want to run successful company where they get to spread the word and spread their products out to the masses?  There’s nothing inherently wrong with that is there?  It’s the American dream.

But it still bothers me.  It rubs me the wrong way.  It seems…dirty.

I guess in my pursuit to become a better person this past year specifically, I recognize how easy it is to become obsessed with perfection.  I’m 100% guilty of this and I suppose this post is my confession.  I have idolized those figures on stage.  Looking at those pictures of a competitor or even just a fitness model and thinking “I want those arms.”  “I want my abs to look like that.” “I am going to work incredibly hard to get those delts.”

It’s really important (to ME at least) that I remember that although those are REAL people with REAL emotions and thoughts and feelings, I am unique.  I am not like them.  I shouldn’t strive to be like them.  I might make a comment under their photo but I have to take a step back and think:

“Wait….I can admire them.  I can admire their work ethic.  But in no way should I idolize them.”

I have stopped following quite of a few fitness pages and people who I find don’t have the same values I have.  The ones with the selfies everyday that say “Look at me.”  They can easily they can be misconstrued to say “WORSHIP ME and WHAT I STAND FOR.”

Your body is your temple.  But too might time spent worshiping that body in the gym, in the mirror, can cross over into idol territory.

Being a role model is one thing; being worshiped is dark territory that I don’t want to cross over into.

Sidenote:  I’m well aware of the irony of this post as I use Social Media to post my own progress pics.  But that’s exactly what they are: progress pics.  Not perfection – far from it.  I still hope to use this blog as inspiration for others to become fit.  Not fitness obsessed.