The Body Image Issue

The Monday night post is Jocelyn territory, and in this post she delves into a major issue confronting America, the fitness industry and, even CrossFit.

Training solely for aesthetics.
Joc; figure show.
Joc; figure show.
Training for performance:
Joc; 1:27 Grace, 8:13 Helen

Joc; 1:27 Grace, 8:13 Helen

Vero; 245#x3 Deadlift, 1:43 500m row, 47 1/2" box jump

Vero; 245#x3 Deadlift, 1:43 500m row, 47 1/2" box jump

Emily; yesterday's Santa Cruz 10k 11th place female and 39th overall out of 1171 runners, 20+ chest-to-bar pullups

Emily; yesterday's Santa Cruz 10k 11th place female and 39th overall out of 1171 runners, 20+ chest-to-bar pullups

Training for reward.

Mowgli, able to sit, lie down, come, leave it, and leap tall boxes in a single bound, and, more distressingly, able to jump in and out of car windows with ease.

Mowgli; able to sit, lie down, come, leave it, and leap tall boxes in a single bound, and, more distressingly, able to jump in and out of car windows with ease.

Ah yes, “The Body Image Issue”. The topic that everyone loves to hate the media–that evil, brain washing entity–for. Hey, that sounds like it could be the latest headline on the stands for Newsweek. You’ve probably read or heard many of the statistics floating around: That if shop mannequins were real women, they’d be too thin to menstruate. Or that 7% of 12th grade males have used steroids in order to become more muscular. Or that one out of 4 college aged women has an eating disorder. Or, according to one U.S. National survey, women fear being fat more than dying. You may have also heard that if GI Joe were human, he would have larger biceps than any bodybuilder in history and that if Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions. And did you know that 50% of 10th grade and 12th grade boys want a more muscular upper body and an estimated 40-50% of American women are trying to lose weight at any point in time?

But it doesn’t stop there. Even the fit and athletic suffer from self destructive ideas about body image. According to Research News (Ohio State University) a pilot survey of elite male athletes found that about one in five believed they weren’t sufficiently muscular. While female athletes in the study said they wanted to lose weight (an average of 6.8 pounds), men wanted to gain weight – an average of 3.2 pounds. A study conducted by Jennifer Carter, a psychologist at the OSU Sports Medicine Center, concluded that 17.5 percent of athletes in lean sports showed symptoms of eating disorders.

In CrossFit, we maintain that we are driven solely by performance. We aim to get stronger, faster, better. We suggest the Zone diet, not because it will make you look lean, but because it will enhance your performance and make you feel better from the inside out. We brag that we don’t even have mirrors in our box, because ultimately, even though CrossFit does in fact make you look great, the real pleasure is in increased performance and a general sense of confidence, balance, and well-being.

But let’s be real for a moment. I’ve heard people buzzing plenty in the CrossFit box about body image. I’ve heard it all, good and bad. Some wish there was at least one mirror in the box so they could see the positive effects that CrossFit has had on their body, while some (ladies) have mouthed off about cutting back on CrossFit because they feared getting too “burly” and muscular or gaining too much weight. There have been those who have snuck off to Gold’s gym to do bicep curls because, although CrossFit made them fit, they also care about aesthetics and wanted to isolate a few muscle groups for appearance purposes. There are those who have guzzled protein shakes and creatine drinks in hopes of getting “yoked” and probably even those who have contemplated using illegal substances to achieve certain aesthetic goals that would otherwise be impossible to reach. There are some who want to be bigger, stronger, and leaner and there are others who want to be smaller, daintier, and more feminine, and many, many more who just want to look good period. Usually these people don’t stick with CrossFit, or their attitudes change, but they are there.

That evil, evil, brain washing media, man. With all of the thousands of advertisements we see every day telling us how to look younger, sexier; telling us what we need to buy to have better hair and teeth; how to lose weight, have softer skin, fuller lips, stronger nails, bigger breasts, bigger penises (it seems like there is always a magic pill–you name it there’s a pill to fix it). Even as a performance driven CrossFit athlete, it’s tough not to occasionally get distracted by body image issues when the media force feeds it to you in hundreds of ways thousands of times a day, asphyxiating your subconscious mind and your self worth, compelling you to be an obedient American consumer.

Good thing for us that at the end of the day CrossFit is just as good at strengthening our minds and our confidence as it is at strengthening our bodies. As we say at CrossFit West, General Physical Preparedness is more than muscle deep.

Thoughts? How have you dealt with body image issues?  Please post to Comments.

Workout:

Work the high box jump.

Then:

1/2 Cindy with 20# vest

AMRAP in 10 minutes

5 Pullups

10 Pushups

15 Squats

Post WOD completed and score to Comments.