The criticism I’ve received from Libero Network’s #StopFitspiration Movement has not been easy for me to digest. For months I have sat on all of the comments, unsure what to do, what to make of them, or whether or not to respond. But I’ve found my voice now, and this is what I have to say:
(note: this is an excerpt, the full version of this post can be read HERE)
Ever since we began our #StopFitspiration movement, we’ve received a lot of criticism in the form of emails, Tumblr posts, pins, and comments. Clearly some clarification is needed; so after much thought and consulting with people whose opinions I value and respect, I’ve decided the time has come to offer a response to the criticism. Please take note that any negative comments that have been made directly on our website that are pro-fitspiration have not been (and will never be) approved, and therefore will not appear anywhere publicly; this is not because we would rather keep other’s negative opinions about us ‘under the rug’, but rather because many of these comments are triggering and promote values and a lifestyle that we here at Libero Network are working to speak out against. However, for the purposes of this post, we have copied a few and have posted them either in full (in cases where we have saved copies) or paraphrased so we can respond to each one individually, thus the trigger warning below. It is my intention with this post to not disrespect others, but to acknowledge their concern/criticism and respond to it in a way that supports our Mission & Values as an organization. I ask that you offer the same grace while reading this post as we offer you when reading your comments.
Sincerely, Lauren Bersaglio
Founding President & Editor
**Trigger warning: some of the comments posted below may be triggering for those who are in recovery from compulsive exercise and/or eating disorders.**
For those who have limited attention spans, I filmed a 5min video summing things up, you can watch it here: http://youtu.be/2ttBplc0WLM (or by scrolling to the bottom of this page)
Fitspiration: Images or messages similar to ‘Thinspiration’ but focused on exercise. Rather than promoting a commitment to exercise for the sake of one’s health, Fitspirational messages equate exercise with ‘perfecting’ one’s body – contributing to negative body image and compulsive exercising behaviours. -Lauren Bersaglio
I won’t go into details defining fitspiration in this post, but if you’d like to know more, I suggest reading my previous article What is Fitspiration, Anyways?
The first criticism was aimed directly at me by someone I know personally(albeit, not that well). It appeared the morning after I published my Fitspiration post (yes, that quickly) in the form of a comment on my Facebook profile. I do not have a copy of what was said, as I didn’t even read it in full myself (it was long-winded, ill-informed, and incredibly upsetting); let’s just say I am not the best at accepting criticism without taking it personally… This individual began his comment by saying (paraphrased): “This is the most ridiculous thing I have read in a long time” he then went on to talk about the obesity rates and lack of health amongst the general public in our society and how we all could stand to lose a few pounds and then some filler that I skimmed over. The comment ended with: “And did you really say that having a muffin top is not a bad thing?”
My Response: Yes, I did say that.
(click image for better visibility)
My Response: “How is inspiring a person to eat well and exercise more often a bad thing?” Well…when it comes to strict diets (that often – in this context – are a gateway to Orthorexia) and exercising beyond what is recommended (which ‘more often’ typically is), well, that’s when it is a bad thing.
It is these very messages- eat less, eat ‘better’, exercise more – that are part of the sociological factors that contribute to the development of an eating disorder.
What I find most disturbing about this comment is the second last sentence: “being healthy and strong is beautiful and that you should push yourself harder to get there”. First of all, being strong has nothing to do with beauty. Being a person of integrity is beautiful, being a person who fosters genuine love, is beautiful. Being YOU, is beautiful. Being strong has nothing to do with beauty (unless you are talking about the kind of strength that is not physical). And being strong does not mean you are ‘healthy’. Health is determined by balance: physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. There are many a professional athlete who would put my cardiovascular system to shame, but the compromises they make to achieve that level of physical health (and sometimes they don’t even have balanced physical health!) result in a lifestyle that is far less healthy than I desire.
And “Pushing yourself harder to get there”: We are all for pushing yourself when it matters – persevering in recovery, sticking to your meal plans, enduring through a relapse – but pushing yourself harder as a means to achieve a physical end is not the form of ‘pushing’ that promotes healthy living. Rather, I only took part in this form of ‘pushing’ when I was struggling with Compulsive Exercise and anorexia athletica (yes, I do in fact have personal experience with all of these issues being discussed).
I realize that you cannot please everyone. And when you are going up against messages that are becoming widely accepted by our society, you often please even less. But I (along with the rest of us at Libero Network) continue to stand firmly behind our beliefs – and though we realize that the criticism will most likely keep coming, though we will continue to consider the views of others and will keep an open mind, we will not change our stance in a way that will contradict our Mission & Values as an organization.
In the words of the queen of handling criticism herself, Christina Aguilera:
“They can say all they want to say…but I’m going to carry on, I’m going to keep on singing my song.”
And we here at Libero Network will keep on singing OUR song, too.
As a good friend said to me:
It breaks down to this…
1. You have the Truth and a message to share
2. They do not like the truth and will fight it
3. Speak the Truth (scratch that) SHOUT THE TRUTH
Read original article with my full responses to the criticism HERE
Here’s the short 5min video I did summing things up…
*The Bible tends to use harsher titles than I would – and I in no way consider those who have criticized this movement ‘Fools’. Not most of them, anyways…