Promoting Balance and Practicing Perfection
"Why aren't there any normal women in your ads? I want to see someone like me in there."
Believe it or not, this is a common question I have received about my fitness studio's corporate advertising initiatives. In fact, I've even received this question on a local scale, when I have done photoshoots of my team and clients, all of whom have different sizes and shapes. Maybe you've never spent time analyzing fitness advertising like I have, but there's typically a common trend:
Advertising is intimidating and deceiving.
Now, in my time with Pure Barre corporate, I felt the pressure of being in some of those advertising campaigns. Words like thin enough and fit enough raced through my head like a freight train, as I sucked in my stomach and stood tall, listening only to the criticism inside my own head. And yet, I knew that the pictures and videos I was participating in had the power to make someone else feel inadequate, when I was in the middle of questioning my own worth during their creation.
In my career, I have found one of the biggest personal obstacles to be the fine line between balance and perfection.
I'll be brutally honest - it's really hard to lead by example, and there's always someone who will find something to criticize. I love healthy eating and fitness, but in my own recovery from an unhealthy body image, it's difficult to balance being too much with not enough. None of us want to work out with a teacher who looks unhealthy and seems to be the antithesis of the brand they promote. But, in the same breath, we are quick to criticize someone who doesn't look fit enough or healthy enough to be our leader. We think, "If they're the standard, will this workout really do me any good if it hasn't given them a "perfect body"?" I know this because I'm guilty of thinking it, too.
Far too often, I find myself preaching a message of balance while internally holding myself and others around me to a standard of perfection.
Fitness is an easy example because it's a aesthetically driven world in more ways than I'd like to admit, but the ultimate downfall of this mindset comes in placing someone else on a pedestal. We like to build people up using horrific grammar such as, "OMG she is goals," (this is millenial speak for I admire her). And as soon as our idols reveal themselves to be normal people, we lose interest. We want to be inspired by those we think are above us and put down those who aren't on our level, and it has to stop in every industry.
Yes, you have to practice what you preach. If you're a nutritionist, I hope you're not at McDonalds on a weekly basis. If you're a fitness instructor, you should be able to crush a workout. If you're a business owner, you should be willing to do the grunt work like taking out the trash and cleaning up the office. But there's a difference between being authentic and unrealistic, and honesty is the only thing that helps us break down those barriers.
That's why I try to use my platform to remind others that there is a beating heart behind every pretty picture and amazing accomplishment you see in someone else's life. There are days when I scarf down ice cream and days when I crush it at the studio (sometimes, the same day). There are days when I make a lot of money and days when I'm anxious about finances. There are days when my relationship is electrifying, and other days when I feel too disconnected to talk about it.
No level of success is high enough to take away the flaws of being a human.
Living a life of balance means accepting the fact that no one can live up to an impossible standard, including you. So, the next time you're quick to criticize someone for not measuring up, check in with your message, and see if what you're promoting lines up with what you want to practice.