Fit vs fake – can the Olympics help change our body image ideals?

13 Aug

Is anyone else just completely bored of seeing plastic surgery-loving, overly-tanned, talentless celebrities all over the media? I mean honestly, since when did being orange and stupid become the route to success and stardom?

I think that’s why for many people the Olympics were a breath of fresh air.  Not only were we given the chance to discover a whole bunch of new sports (hello rhythmic gymnastics!) but there was also a focus on the amazing things athletes could do with their bodies – not just what they looked like in a bikini.

OK, so for most of us, the Jessica Ennis six pack body is pretty out of reach, but at least celebrating athletic women encourages others to exercise, build muscle and strive for strength and endurance. It’s a whole lot better than aiming to be the fake-titted, stick-thin, plastic-faced and fragile isn’t it?

I honestly feel sorry for little girls growing up today. Even when I was approaching my teens – about 12 years ago now – there was nowhere near the same pressure to be ‘perfect’ in appearance. Watching the Spice Girls at the closing ceremony was interesting. Back when I was growing up, they looked liked this:

They look like normal girls don’t they? Normal size, not too flawless, all with their own individual style. Yes, all us girls lusted after those purple suede platform boots, but they weren’t a million miles away from us in terms of appearance.

In their closing ceremony performance last night, they looked like this:


They’re certainly looking good for their age, but they’ve gone further towards that cookie-cutter perfection (see Girls Aloud, The Saturdays), leaving behind some of what made them AWESOME.

Let’s hope that the Olympic women can help change perceptions of body image in the UK. It’s not about beating yourself up because you can’t attain some unachievable ‘ideal’ – it’s about keeping fit and healthy. Even more than that, they show us that how you look is not the most important thing – showing drive, grit and determination to reach your goals is what makes a truly successful woman!





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