Photo by jumfer on Flickr used under a Creative Commons License

I hate New Year’s Eve —  this year, I elected to party like it was 2004 and marathoned The O.C. with a bottle of wine then passed out at approximately 12:06, in case you needed a hero — but I hate the weeks following it even more.

Did you make vague champagne pledges to become a better, fitter, newer you, you guys? Like “eat better” and “save money?” (I currently have $6.07 in my savings account and an absolutely inedible kale “salad” languishing in the office fridge, so I am killing it on both fronts.) Along with fucking frigid weather, January brings with it a 100% increase in weight-loss coverage. I lost three pounds of water weight this week. WHERE’S MY HUMAN INTEREST PROFILE?

This time of year also brings with it a proliferation of fitspo posts — fitspo, of course, being the sweatier cousin of thinspo.

If you’re new to this horrible part of the Internet, thinspo is short for thinspiration — aspirational photos of very thin women, often curated on Pinterest boards.

Fitspo largely consists of images of very tanned, very toned and very thin (usually) white women accompanied by all kinds of problematic, guilt-driven “motivational” slogans in terrible fonts.

“Suck it up now so you won’t have to suck it in later” or “I’m currently training to be the hottest girlfriend you’ve ever had” or “your body is a reflection of your lifestyle,” or “strong is the new skinny,” or this hall-of-famer, “sweat is fat crying.”


I work out very regularly. I wear a size 8 to 10. I have an acceptable body by societal standards. I do not look like a fitness model. I will never look like a fitness model — and it’s not because, as fitspo messaging would suggest, I lack motivation/self-control/am lazy. No, I will never look like a fitness model because I do not work out in order to look like a fitness model. I work out because I like to challenge my body and I like the way it makes me feel when I push myself past my limits.

I do not use exercise as a punishment or a way to atone for eating a cookie. When I work out, I sleep better and I make better food decisions.

But, see, fitspo doesn’t delve into any of the other reasons one might possibly work out.

Fitspo is EXACTLY THE SAME as thinspo — yet its followers often position it as some sort of healthy lifestyle alternative. Fitspo celebrates a very specific, and limited, body type. It’s about an often-unattainable aesthetic.

What it’s not about? Fitness. It’s just thinspo ideals and messaging in more muscular coding.

Strong is not the new skinny just like sweat is not “fat crying” Jesus Christ.

Body ideals are body ideals are body ideals. And so long as we celebrate a very specific body while vilifying other bodies — and making value judgments on the people who inhabit them — we’ll never be free of the corset.