Why I Don’t Talk About Getting Your Body Back
When marketing my services or programs, I never use the terms “body back” or actually say anything about changing bodies at all. I’m just not comfortable with that and, honestly, there are much more important reasons to exercise than fat loss.
I happened upon a clickbait article a few weeks ago that made me realize how long I’ve been aware of how the messages used by advertisements can deeply effect the people receiving these messages, especially those related to moms. See, sometimes clickbait is a good thing (ha!)
In my early years of college when I was majoring in anthropology, I read a book called “Death without Weeping”. Written by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who followed the lives of women in the Alto, a shantytown in Northern Brazil, the book was centered around the everyday violence in this part of the country, mainly focused on women and children. Living conditions were terrible, violence was an everyday occurrence, and infants were dying at an alarming rate.
Nearby was a big Nestle factory. In order to get these people to buy their baby formula, they were telling mothers that their breastmilk wasn’t good enough for the infants. This is one of the reasons infants were dying at such a high rate. Mothers were only able to get water from a contaminated river. Having neither the education nor the means to boil the water, the mothers fed their infants with formula that was made with this contaminated water, causing them to get very sick and die. And even if the mothers were able to boil the water, they couldn’t afford the formula, so they would use twice the water in the mix to stretch the product. If infants weren’t dying of infections, they were dying of malnutrition.
Scheper-Hughes states in the book, “Most Alto women believed that they could not produce sufficient milk, that they were too poor, too weak, or too ‘wasted’ to do so.”
Nestle provided rations of the formula milk to poor families in the Alto upon the birth of their babies, playing into the women’s distrust of their own bodies, using those marketing strategies to sell more formula to the poor people in a shantytown in Brazil.
A few weeks ago on Instagram, I asked if anyone has been made to feel inadequate or targeted by the messaging in marketing/advertising.
Over 75% said yes.
But that’s the job of the marketing, right? To increase financial gain by sending a message that can’t be refused, that plays off of weaknesses, to get people to think “I NEED that.”
The fitness industry is no different. In fact, it’s worse. Marketing strategies tap into the discomfort people have about their bodies, into the minds of people who already don’t feel good about themselves, who may be desperate to change.
What might new mothers feel most desperate to do, most uncomfortable with?
Their bodies, their bellies, bouncing back.
New mothers all over are seeing photos of Kate Middleton on social media with a smile, 4 inch heels, and a full face of makeup on, just after birthing her third baby. Then they scroll a little further to see “GET YOUR PRE-BABY BODY BACK IN JUST 6 WEEKS!” In this society, we are told that sneezing when we pee is normal but that the way our bodies look is not. We are inundated with messages that we must be smaller, fitter, better. That what we are doing somehow isn’t good enough, we aren’t good enough.
Honestly, I’m tired of being told I need to be smaller. I want to be able to be strong without apologizing for it, to take up some damn space in this world of “smaller, better fitter.” I want the same for my clients. That’s why I don’t talk about getting your body back or fat loss or even changing your body at all.
In this society where everything is focused on body, there needs to be a fresh message. A message telling mothers they are enough, their bodies are amazing, and it’s ok to have goals other than becoming smaller. Women need a message that gives a huge middle finger to all of the companies preying on the uncertainty that is new motherhood.
So when I talk about bodies or bellies, I focus more on what they can do- what awesome things they did, not what they look like. That’s a message I can get behind.