The qualifying questionnaire asked me.
Why yes, yes I am!
I was super stoked when a friend referred me to an up-and-coming women's fitness magazine whose sole purpose they claim is to promote women's strength. They were looking to feature women who are "on a mission to change the face of fitness". I am gaining all kinds of strength and ALSO, I'm on a mission to change the face of fitness absolutely- I have a unique story to tell and a lot of fitness professionals agree. So I applied. They required some photographs, which I sent (professional sports action photos from a kettlebell meet), and took a lot of time and care in presenting my narrative to be clear, concise and attention-grabbing. I thought it would make a great story for a NEW fitness magazine.
After all, the face of fitness is surely changing by the day, so I presumed a new fitness magazine would be different than all the rest. Boy was I wrong.
About a week after I submitted my story about how I'm trying to change the face of fitness as we know it to be a more body-positive place where people from all walks of life are truly encouraged and motivated to pursue fitness, I received a response from the editor of the magazine. I was stoked! She was looking for more "quality" photos than what I'd submitted.
"Although images don't have to be professional, they should highlight your face, physique and sport as much as possible. Do you have any more surfing photos? Or even a kettlebell shot with a less busy background? Below is a link to some current athletes for inspiration. Again, your photos don't have to look exactly like this, but hopefully it will give you a sense of the types of images we publish for this particular section of the mag.".
I excitedly clicked the link.
I was brought to a page featuring seven similarly posed and dressed muscley females- every last one of them in nothing but a sports bra.
After clicking through their "stories", I realized that this wasn't something I was interested in participating in. I was taken aback by their ability to market this as something "different" and it being painfully the same as everything else.
Another part which was very misleading is that none of these ladies had particularly compelling stories. A lot of them have a pro card in physique related fitness sports, and I couldn't tell one from the other based on their stories presented. These were clearly half-assed "mini-profiles" of pretty bodies which were developed to be shared within these ladies' social networks to help drive traffic to this website/magazine. I'm sure each of them had a story to tell, and perhaps told it in the application process just like I did. But you wouldn't know that by reading this watered-down version which the magazine decided to publish.
I let it go and didn't respond.
Yesterday, I was contacted again. I was notified that they are on a strict deadline, "any chance we could get more pics?".
I mulled it over--- do I continue to ignore the request? Do I tell them how I really feel? We can't say who's fault it is that in the fitness industry, shirtless photos are status quo. I had strong feelings about it, though and decided it was time for me to be a part of the solution. After conferring with a few like minded close friends, I decided to formulate a response. Here is what I sent back:
Thank you so much for considering me! The reason I have yet to respond to your first offer and request for photos is that I've been spending a lot of time thinking on if this is something I wish to be a part of.
After having a look at the types of entries published, I've noticed not a single woman featured is wearing a shirt. I've also noticed that the write up about their interests leaves a lot to be desired with regards to why, exactly, they are even qualified to be "Women to Watch". There is no talk about what they're doing to further women and women's strength in the fitness industry. As a matter of fact, they all look and sound exactly the same.
The whole thing is rather lackluster.
I was hoping that your publication would've taken the time and effort to utilize this beat to fulfill the potential it truly has- to highlight women who are doing things and making waves in the industry by being unique and different from one another. All I see when I click on this link is women who all look painfully similar. And their writeups are so very generic. I will never remember any of these ladies' faces or names- and to me, that makes them the furthest thing from "Women to Watch". I don't doubt they are doing things which may be watch-worthy, but the way your publication has presented them makes it feel like these are just "Women to look at".
The fitness industry is changing at a rapid pace to more positive and balanced and to be on a more well rounded general heath theme (mental, physical and emotional). STRONG, to all of us on this end, means focusing on what we can DO and not what we look like. Strong is realizing that you cannot tell one's health simply by looking at them. Strong is challenging yourself and moving your body and gaining physical strength. Strong is looking in the mirror and loving your body for what it can do, regardless of what it looks like. And most importantly, strong is being a part of the solution to the disordered thinking, unrealistic expectations, harshness and extremeisms set forth by this industry.
As far as I'm concerned, if you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem. And the problem here is that the general public gains ZERO benefits from shirtless fitness professionals sporting six packs being highlighted as "changing the face of fitness" (they're presented here as doing the exact same thing that's been being done for years).
I can name at least twenty women who are heading the Fitness 2.0 (read: no starvation, no over training, no unrealistic expectations, and focusing on DOING strong things) reform of this industry. Publications focusing on the "old" way of doing things (read: highlighting women who are just pretty with muscles) are going to get left sorely behind. Check out the #takebackfitspo -something I played a role in starting. Look at the women who are dying to look up to fitness professionals who are keeping it real. There are TONS of us- and WE are changing the face of fitness.
So thanks again for the opportunity- but right now I'm looking for media exposure who will truly highlight the amazing things women like myself are doing to benefit this industry- and putting a shirt on, for a lot of us, is the first step.
Owner, Surf City Fit Club
#takebackfitspo has empowered women across the world to take pride in the things that they can DO. It has opened peoples' eyes to the unattainability, and often unhealthy, images and manipulation the current fitness industry feeds us.
Following the sending of this email, which I do not expect a response from but was very cathartic for me to compose, I thought "What if I had sent them 'the types of images we publish for this particular section of the mag'". So I called up a friend and asked if they'd like to take some photos of me doing STRONG things with my shirt off, just like this magazine asked for
I won't send them, but here are some I took for the purposes of this post. Fitness 2.0 is taking pride in what you can do. If you are a fitness professional, be a part of the solution by helping your clients set and achieve attainable goals which consider mental, emotional and physical health equilaterally.
I work my ass off to be a part of the solution- and I have a community of fitness professionals and clients globally who truly ARE changing the face of fitness behind me as I am behind them.
I wish I could send the magazine these types of photos and say "look what I can DO!".
If you have a platform to stand on, I hope you'll stand with me. If you have a platform to stand on, be a part of the solution. Let's stop destroying people with fitness and start lifting them up to be the best possible version of themselves that they can be.
I cannot say THANK YOU enough to the overwhelmingly positive response this blog has gotten. It appears we are ALL ready for a change- and it's coming. Stay up-to-date on what #fit2point0 is doing to be a part of the solution by liking www.fb.com/fit2point0
More ways to be a #partofthesolution coming soon. Thank you times a million!