Last week my very dear friend, Reena Rai of Fashion Daydreams, wrote a wonderfully thoughtful post on the state of the blogosphere today. Noting that the blogosphere has now become a fantastic opportunity-creator for many, she also very astutely points out that in some ways it has become rather cold, overly polished and not very real. As someone not exactly new to blogging, but who was always on the periphery of the blogosphere, even I can see that the atmosphere has changed. There’s an incredible amount of pressure to be perfect, and it’s not just in fashion blogging; it’s expected in fitness and wellbeing blogging too.
Personally, I think a move back to the original authenticity that blogging sought to create is very much needed. But when we talk about authenticity, it has to be genuine. In the pursuit of being more ‘real’ there is a danger that we go too far, swinging the pendulum towards a culture of forced realness. A reality that comes with its own pressures and expectations.
Take the Instagram Transformation Tuesday photos for examples, showing end of the day bloated versus morning flat stomach. It was a wonderful concept at first trying to highlight that what you see on social media is often not as it seems. However, it was done, and done, and done, so now feels to me more about gaining followers than ‘being real’. For me and my body hang ups it would be incredibly inauthentic of me to pretend I was comfortable with a photo like that being out there – you wouldn’t be getting an insight into the real me, you’d just be getting a photo that makes me feel like dying inside while I try to jump on a trend to get more followers. Essentially, don’t feel like you have to do things you wouldn’t do normally in name of being ‘authentic’. Be yourself, share what you want to share and don’t feel like you have to fit yet another social media trend.
While we are on the subject of body image, another thing I’ve noticed within the fitness and health blogosphere, is that it is perfectly fine to say you have had body image issues, but they are never present tense. If fitness has genuinely made you feel more confident and happier in your own skin then that is fricking awesome and I am SO happy for you. However, I think this seemingly upbeat attitude is not always the full truth. You just have to look in my gym friends Whatsapp group to see us worshipping our own awesome squat butts one minute, and then near weeping over imaginary chunky thighs the next.
Personally, I’ve struggled with body issues all my life and am acutely aware that I hover on the edge of body positivity every day. Yes, strength training has inspired me and helped enormously, but it is something I still have to work on, am working on and will always share with you guys. And I doubt I’m the minority there, I think that is the case for many. I love finding others blogging about similar issues in their fitness journeys, acknowledging that things like body positivity and mental health need just as much training time as our squat depth does in the gym.
I think, essentially, the quest for authenticity has to be about letting go of ‘perfect’. Whether its being a perfect fitness goddess or perfect in being ‘real’ and ‘approachable’. As human beings we are all fundamentally flawed, and it is those flaws that make us beautiful. The determination, drive and ambition of fellow fitness bloggers is what draws me to reading about their journeys and adventures. The constant bombardment of perfection we see on social media and blogs so easily perpetuates itself, and makes people feel like they are failing. We are not failing if we don’t yet have six pack abs, or can’t squat double our bodyweight, we’re not failing if the majority of the time we want to show ourselves at our very best either. We are just working hard, smashing our own goals and sharing the journey along the way. And that is wonderful, and most importantly, it is real.
Some promises from me on authenticity:
- I will not allow my non-perfect body to stop me posting workout vlogs anymore
- I will always talk about my anxiety in the present, because while under control it is something I actively manage everyday
- I will always talk openly about the mental health issues I have had and how fitness helps me manage and feel strong
- I will always share the good, the bad and the hilarious escapades of my journey to becoming a personal trainer and bikini competitor
- I will start to post transformation photos now I’m working with a coach again, but you’ll never see me post a bloated one because that just makes me cringe. Flexed vs unflexed is all you’ll maybe get from me guys, ok?
What are your thoughts on authenticity in fitness blogging? How do you deal with the pressures of perfection and trying to keep it real?