Bodies As Commodities

In an age where fitness has become it’s own competitive sport, are we treating our bodies as a way of marketing our worth?

The internet is riddled with ripped physiques and feats of strength and speed and power.  But why is it posted?  And why are so many people watching and sharing?

photo credit: shockmansion.com

Maybe it’s just me, but when I see chiseled abs or a neck height box jump, I don’t think, “Ohhh.  I want that.”  I don’t want to contact them and congratulate them and stalk out their training protocols. I mind-shrug and scroll to something else.  I can’t relate.  Nor do I want to.

What a lot of social media marketers overlook is that  impressivism is alienating.

People don’t like to feel bad about themselves.  Far too many feel far too insignificant without this not-so-recent wave of shaming.

Jen Sinkler wrote a great piece last week about how “come with me” will always be more effectual than “look at me”.  The trouble is, the parent magazine of the article, Women’s Health, forced me to click through two semi-naked, extremely-thin girl pop up ads to get there.  Each asked me if I had a bikini body.   To sidestep entering my email for marketing purposes, I had to declare “I already had a bikini body”. The contradiction was palpable.

I get it.  Fitness sells.  Fitter people are seen as better people.  Better humans.

This. Is. Bullsh*t.
Being able to toss tires and perform muscle ups doesn’t make you a better parent.  Running through mud and jumping over a stack of burning logs doesn’t make you a better worker.  If anything, those feats take you AWAY from work and parenting.  Let’s be honest here.  Fitness is a selfish act.  Not negative, but indeed selfish.  You exercise for YOU, not for your kid or your boss.  You exercise to feel better about yourself.  True, being able to do more may increase your capability and your confidence, but what you DO with those gains define whether it’s beneficial to this world.  

Making yourself better at a specific task does not make you a better human being.  

Quit buying this story.

It ruins the delight and accomplishment of the ordinary, and there’s far more people in that tribe than could ever be lured in by Reebok.  There isn’t more joy in living in the extreme.  By making accomplishment harder to come by, it just seems more rewarding by comparison.  The real effect of pushing the envelope and then promoting that envelope as ideal is less happy people.


If you want to document your progress, have at it, but if you put it out there in the world to be gawked at, admit it’s really to be boastful and showy.  You don’t inspire from a pedestal.  You ostracize. 

Don’t show me what you can do.  Teach me.  Give me something I can use.  Equip and empower me to become my own version of improved.  I’ll gladly give you money to need you less.  

Want to turn the industry on its head, Reebok? (Or Nike? or Under Armour)?

How about “Be Unnecessary.”  

Now there’s a slogan for you.  

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