Friday, January 22, 2016

The physical mind fucking of social media


Long before the interwebs and social media ever existed, I went into the gym daily, and trained.

Yeah, we wore fanny packs.  Mainly to hold our giant cassette or CD player so we could listen to the tunes we wanted to instead of shitty gym music (some things truly haven't changed in gyms in 30 plus years).  We wore clown pants and the gym was packed with mullets (which has now been replaced by the every bit as hideous and shitty "undercut" hairstyle that is currently popular).

We did what the "bros" from the magazines said we should do (ghost written or not) and didn't argue with them about the scientific validity of a program or diet.  Mainly because we couldn't.  We had to try something to see if it worked, and were left to nothing but trial and error.  Which in turn, actually gave us something called "experience".  

Thankfully, the net has taken all of that away and made both training and diet the springboard for making things as complicated as possible, and become the playground for what should be intellectual debate and turned it into proverbial pissing matches over who is "right" or "wrong".  There's a whole sect of people who talk a lot about training and diet on the net, and a whole lot of them that do very little of both.  But that's really an entirely different article.

But even worse than that, it has completely distorted reality in regards to what people are seeking to achieve, or what they believe is even achievable at all.  To add, it has even changed how people train.

Trust me when I say that it was hard enough coming up through the 90's, being a teen and looking at the physiques of pros and believing that building such a physique was attainable on some protein powder and pills from GNC.  Steroid talk was pretty much non-existent back then in magazines and even Lee Haney himself made his own training video saying all he took was fucking Weider "Anabolic Mega-Packs".

I really can't imagine what the hell goes through the mind of a teen who finds himself looking up to guys who not only boost synthol, but then even photoshop their IG and other social media pics to make themselves look even more cartoonish, and make Youtube videos that for the life of me, I can't figure out how it pertains to training or dieting in a way that is conducive to helping them.  Entertainment value perhaps?  I'd like to think so, until I read the comments below said videos where I see lots of young lifters actually defending their "champion".

But I feel the women have it even worse.

Social media is now filled with women looking for "fame" through nothing more than booty pics, and the lengths they will go to in order to get "likes" is borderline psychotic.

From ass implants to pics photoshopped so hard that the doorframe near her ass appears to bend space and time, there's no length some of these women won't go to in order to find social and sexual affirmation....for their ass.

Men of course, drive this market.  Wait, let me rephrase; thirsty men drive this market.  I can't scroll through my newsfeed or IG without seeing a pic of some chick sticking her ass into a camera lense so close that would make any gynecologist scream "I'm not studying atoms in your vagina!" followed by men begging to wife said women.

Other women see this, of course, and want the same attention.  Let's be real here (which is also impossible on social media because no one ever admits to this shit), the women do this for attention from men.  Men give said attention - for reasons I am unaware of as it is not going to get you laid - and the cycle continues.

This is all fine, actually.  People are free to run their social media any way they please, just as I'm free to write on this blog and poke fun about it.  My point in all of this is that this is how the social media market gets driven.  Literally, by asses.  Women want them because they desire attention from men who are the poster boys for sexual desperation, and those men believe by giving that attention will somehow translate into some action in the sack.  Which of course is never going to happen, no matter how many roses pictures you post under her picture or how many times you incorrectly use the phase "god your so beautiful".  It's "God, you're so beautiful" in case you missed that.  There should be a comma after "God" and it's "you're" and not "your".  Your means.....fuck, nevermind.

Since the fitness industry is driven by judgement (whether you like that or not, it's a fact) based on some criteria, I can tell you first hand that most of the women that get propped up as having these perfect bodies rarely impress in person.  I remember the first big expo I went to years and years ago, and remember feeling quite confused after half the day had passed, and the great majority of "asses" I observed were exceptionally underwhelming.  I'm not even saying that to be an asshole.  I remember being exceptionally disappointed because as a man who does himself appreciate a great set of glutes, or in fact a well developed physique in general, I was left quite sad at the end of the day.

One particular female who I knew of from social media, that prides herself on posting pics of her ass, actually looked quite like 10 pounds of shit stuffed into a 5 pound bag in person.  I say this not to be an asshole, even though it is an asshole thing to write, I say this because I remember it being the first thing I thought when I saw her in person.  I couldn't tell she had ever trained, and remember thinking she was actually quite....fat.  But I have another reason I write that which I will get to later.

None of this has stopped the same women from shopping their pics or posting video after video of them taken from the ass side over and over again.  That's what gets attention.  And that's what women want.

Fuck, let me not be quite so sexist here.  Most of us want or desire attention from the opposite sex (or the same sex, fuck, I don't want to appear homophobic either).  God damn, now I feel as though I have to rewrite that whole bit.  But I won't.  Let's just say, in the industry people do indeed crave attention.  There.  That'll work.

But this is a normal human trait and not something I am not shitting on.  Most of us have something we use social media for, to attract attention to ourselves for either personal or professional reasons (people use social media to make a living too), or both.  Guys that post videos of themselves lifting weights often make fun of guys who post half naked pics, when in fact, both are doing different things for the same reasons.  Affirmation and accolades from peers or attention.  Again, nothing wrong with this.

Gotta write that a few times so that it's perfectly clear.

To deny a degree of attention seeking is to deny a very basic human condition.  The condition of desirability.  Some don't need this through social media, it's true.  But many do.  And that's the basic foundation of which all of this is built.

My point in all of this is that this drives the "average" fitness, or "fitfam" hashtagging female who is unaware that many and most of these "perfect body" females have their shit shopped all to hell and back, get ass implants, or generally look nothing like in person what is presented to them via social media - and it warps their perception of what is a "perfect" body, and the perception of their own.

Yes that was a hell of a run on sentence but you'll have to deal with it as I couldn't figure out any other way to write it.

In other words, that they are somehow not quite as "perfect" or will ever be as perfect as these women with 7 gagillion followers.

I truly feel for women who are in the gym daily that feel as though they have to meet some social media goddess standard in order to feel sexy or fit or attractive.  And every few months, something new pops up for women to achieve in order to appear attractive through fitness.

"Don't have a thigh gap?  No man's penis will ever become erect for you!  Want some erect penis?  Do this thigh gap training!"  

/women start posting thigh gap pics or doing thigh gap "training"/

"Don't have a big apple bottom ass?  Do my training program!  It took me from pancake ass to donkey ass in 12 weeks!"

/never reveals surgeon's name/

Women have it tough.  They really do.  As guys, we really don't have it quite as bad as women do because the fact is, women know that men tend to be more visually driven from a sexual aspect.  I mean, there's a reason why strip clubs are in business.  There's a reason why some chick who has never competed in anything at all has a million followers on IG, and there's a reason why certain women get put on the cover of magazines.  Men's magazines I mean.  Like Playboy.  Women aren't as visually driven as men, and often date dudes who are ugly AF because they fulfill other needs women tend to be attracted to.  Like intelligence, confidence, and a big bank account.

annnnndd there was nothing wrong with the "before" pic


I mean, dudes deal with this too, but I honestly think it's quite different.  Men who strive to become overly muscular tend to do so at some point for their own narcissistic reasons or personal goals.  I say that willingly throwing myself under the bus as one of said males.  I could really give two shits about attention from women at THIS point in my life in regards to training goals.  However, of course there was a time when I did enjoy the fact that improving how I looked brought me that.  So I'm trying to stay "real" here and not present myself as someone who is some emotional outlier who never needed affirmation and attention from women.  Hell, even Ed Coan said to me "we all want affirmation that we are highly regarded and looked up to by our competitors and peers."

And there's nothing wrong with that.  Positive affirmation is something most of us crave.  It makes us feel good about ourselves, and often times is the driver for us wanting to obtain harder to achieve goals.  Again, all good things.

What I don't like is how discouraged or disheartened a lot of women get about their own bodies because they don't realize that most of these women either don't look like that in person, or have had work done or had pics altered to look like something they are not.  Or that every few months there is some new "standard" set in place for them in regards to what they are supposed to look like.

It can do everything from creating eating disorders to terrible self body image in women, who look damn good already and worked hard to get there.  Then said female can often find herself in a place where she rarely gets a single moment of happiness from her training or dieting because she never feels like she "measures up" to what she sees online or is told is currently "attractive".

For a while, the "strong is the new skinny" phase became the rage.  And it really put more of an emphasis on women performing well, and becoming "secure" in their body image through lifting and self acceptance.  I actually liked this phrase because I thought it could transcend more than just "abs" or "asses" or how you looked.  That women no longer needed to be a size zero in order to find a place of strength in both their body and mind.

But of course, this motto too got trashed by other females because somehow trashing one body image to uphold another is not good either.  In other words "don't tell someone how to look!"

I think the bottom line is that striving for a healthy body should be the one most PEOPLE aspire to. But that's just my opinion.  There will be some 380 pound powerlifter who is on the verge of a daily heart attack that will disagree, and will say that a 600 pound bench is more important, but I digress.

Yes, I've written many times that I am against obesity acceptance because it is the physical manifestation of leading an unhealthy life, and even wrote several SCIENCE BASED piece supporting the fact that there is no such thing as "good health at any bodyweight".  But the flip side to that, are the women who have transformed their bodies through lifting, formed new eating habits that are conducive to good health, and still feel like shit about themselves because they believe that they aren't "enough" due to a lack of "likes" or "followers" on social media.

And that this obviously is because they don't have a thigh gap, big enough ass, big enough tits, full enough lips, whatever.

Let's make no mistake here, the industry has always been full of liars.  But the impact social media has now on training, dieting, and self perception has become quite tremendous.

While it's true that exceptionally beautiful people are always going to be put on a pedestal because being hot AF sells magazines, supplements, lipstick, and clothes, I truly detest the propping up of fakeness across social media and the ripple effect I see it having into the lives of others.

So let me tell you this ladies - I've seen about every "perfect body" you can imagine that you've seen on social media and as I've covered, most of the time I was very underwhelmed.  I think if you got out to some of these events you'd probably see for yourself that well, you're not as bad off as you think you are.  In fact, I've seen plenty of women in "regular gyms" whose physiques impressed me more, who did not compete, didn't have big social media followers, and really didn't give a fuck.

And despite the fact that I've written several times about how you need to give a fuck, you need to learn what to give a fuck about.  Giving too much of a fuck about the acceptance of people across social media for attention can eventually detract from your own happiness.  Giving too much of a fuck about having the perfect ass or a thigh gap can detract from you just finding happiness in your training and body image.

Everyday you're going to wake up and go to bed with what mom and pops gave you to work with.  If you want to give a fuck about something, and being in the best shape you can be in is one of those things, then worry about what you can do with that, and that alone.  And do the best you can with that; and quit giving a fuck about thigh gaps and "perfect asses" and set goals that are meaningful to what YOU aspire to be.

I told a friend the other night that I was finally in a place where I felt physically "content" with myself.  But upon reflection, I'm not sure if it's because I have actually achieved some physical form that I am actually happy with, or because I finally arrived at a place where I was just happy with who I am as a man.  Maybe it's a bit of both.  Either way, it only took me 26 years (training wise) to arrive here.  Or maybe it was just the last year, when I found myself making decisions to get "healthy" in other aspects of my life, my thoughts, and my mental and emotional well being, that led me here.

Waking up content doesn't remove your ambition to improve unless you allow it to.  It just removes the self loathing and perception that somehow you aren't "perfect" enough because you don't measure up to some photoshopped ass on social media.

And to close, whether you know it or not, a lot of these "perfect bodied" women struggle with a lot of demons and self confidence as well.  How would you like it, if everyday you woke up you felt like the only thing about you worth "liking" was what your ass or body looked like?  And that not a single person gave two shits about your interests, passions, or things outside of fitness or your body that was important to you?  I'm sure at first you'd love the attention, but I can tell you from the words of women that have been in this position, after a while being seen as nothing more than an "ass" can become pretty crippling to how they feel about themselves and their self confidence.

Life is going to be full of struggles and suffering as is.  Try not creating more than you already have by trying to meet some "perfect standard" you think will give you fulfillment.  If you base your self worth on what you lift, look like, and your bodyfat percentage compared to someone else, you're going to very unhappy most of the time.  There's always someone bigger, leaner, and stronger.  I can tell you even from a male's perspective, that is an empty well.  And one I can say I happily no longer travel back to anymore.

Finding self worth has nothing to do with how much weight you can load onto a bar, what your ass looks like, or what your bodyfat percentage is.  It is something you have to eventually recognize that sets you apart from everyone else, makes you unique, and is what attracts the people in your life who truly love you, and are there for reasons beyond your physical appearance.



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11 comments:

  1. Bang on, Paul. I could not have said it better. The "fat positive" movement drives me nuts too. Not that I think we should de-humanize the obese, but don't tell me it's healthy and don't try to convince me that it's socially-driven (as opposed to biologically-driven) reasons that we don't find obese people attractive. I've studied anthropology and I'll just leave it at that...

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  2. Seriously good piece, couldn't agree more

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  3. This made me cry.
    Your daughters are very blessed if you are able to father them in a way they understand this to be true in the face of an assaulting physical culture.

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  4. The other aspect of social media I don't like is how it's made fitness trendy with people who never had any interest in going to the gym before the social media boom over the last few years.

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  5. Part of the reason I can't stand "the social media webz" is because I just don't want to see other people's bullshit "natty" crap and pseudoscience/broscience/christianscience, and men/women that are not diet experts or psychologists acting as though they have degrees in said fields. It's a shame because there's a lot of great stuff on the internet. That's why I'm glad this page exists so I can still access the stuff!

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  6. You are, as always, a call to reality in this insane world. This is spot on.

    BTW, the actual word for 10lbs of shit in a 5lb bag is "blivet." I use this word a lot.

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  7. Hey Paul I'm a 17 year old male weighing around 175 pounds at 8-10% body fat. What program do you recommend for me to put on tons of mass this summer? Thanks

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