Fitspiration and Southern Fried Fitness

Virginia Sole-Smith, Robin Shea Southern Fried Fitness

Guys, I did the most fun radio interview this week, with Robin Shea, host of Southern Fried Fitness, a TV show and internet radio program on wsRadio.

You can read what Robin is all about in the screen grab above — and guess why I liked her immediately (hint: Fried things are delicious.) Robin wanted to discuss this post I wrote back in March, about the troubles with fitspiration. In case you forgot —  Fitspiration or fitspo is a term for all the sweaty hard body images currently bouncing around Pinterest, Facebook and the like, accompanied by:

A) Advertising slogans that confuse girl power with the need to sell sports bras.

B) Messages that promote unrealistic standards about what a “healthy body” should look like, making you feel like your (perfectly great!) body will never be good enough no matter how many crunches you do.

C) Fat Talk and other language that shames and pits one body type against another — “fit is better than skinny” for example.

My girls Lindsay and Lexie Kite of Beauty Redefined were also on the show — in part because Robin wanted us all to talk about the backlash we experienced when Lexie’s article about the problems with fitspiration (which quotes me and ) got picked up by the Huffington Post back in May. You can wade through the comments over there if you really want a taste, but I’ll give you the short version: There are a lot of folks — some claiming to be “fitness professionals” like this clown, some just regular ole armchair body snarkers — who think critiquing the fitspiration phenomenon means:

*That we want everyone to be obese and unhealthy and never do a lick of exercise. Never mind that it’s perfectly possible to be obese and healthy/regularly exercising — you can barely even open that can of worms with these folks.

*That we are probably obese, unhealthy and never do a lick of exercise ourselves… and need to write these posts to “feel better about ourselves.” Because personal attacks keep it classy.

*That fitspiration has nothing to do with thinspiration because one glorifies “being healthy” while the other glorifies extreme dieting. In fact: They both are fine in isolation — nothing wrong with appreciating a beautiful body! — but taken collectively as an Internet phenomenon, glorify unattainable beauty ideals — which we’re pressured to pursue through any measure possible. (And yes, there’s such a thing as unhealthy exercise.)

Since the Huffington Post piece, more of these comments have been creeping onto this blog — for example, there are a couple of you who consider Lena Dunham too fat for television… really? We’re doing that now? — and I’m still making up my mind how to handle them. Occasionally I reject the super crazy or hateful ones on the grounds that this is my blog and I have the right to keep it a body positive zone and not engage the haters — they have plenty of other forums who want to hear that kind of talk. But mostly, I approve them because as a journalist, free-speech-for-all is always going to be my fallback position. And because I think we need to keep this dialogue going if we’re going to make any progress here.

That’s why it was so cool to chat with Robin, Lindsey and Lexie — we all come at this from slightly different angles, and certainly, different backgrounds. But mostly, we have a lot of shared goals. You can hear us discuss it all (for about an hour – we get into it!) over here on Thanks again to Robin and all the Southern Fried Fitness folks for having me on!

PS. And be sure to check out the latest Beauty Redefined projects, like their Photoshop Hall of Shame  and their awesome “I am Beauty Redefined” photo gallery. (I’m also loving this post, which gives an excellent summary of all the reasons why Body Mass Index is better for big business, not so much a useful personal health measurement.)


Filed under Beauty Standards, Happenings, Health, Press

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  1. Posted June 27, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    LOVED getting to talk to you again, this time via a fantastic radio show! Thanks for kicking all of this off with your fantastic fitspiration post and being such an eloquent, beautiful, powerful force for good. And thanks for the shout-outs here. We’ll be sharing!

  2. Anna
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Something I love and hate about free speech is how intense some people can get about what they believe in and you get to hear lots of different ideas, though it is unfortunate that people feel the need or are uneducated enough to insult others for their views.

  3. test
    Posted June 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    test, please ignore

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