By: Ginger Mayo
In the shadows of a broken relationship, I feel distraught and lost. Before, Blogilates and I shared a romantic, constructive and positively enthusiastic relationship. But lately my feelings have turned sour.
Blogilates is an online website and resource that posts a monthly workout calendar, decked with video links, recipes and cute emoticons. The website is bedazzled with feminine colors, sparkly pinks and floral patterns, and all of the important links are free with a membership to the newsletter. It was set up and run by an incredible young entrepreneur named Cassey Ho, who fulfilled her dream of creating an online community of ‘popsters’ who work towards ‘improving’ their bodies through clean eating and working out. My initial attraction to the videos was a few years back, when I felt Cassey was a body positive female influence and demonstrated the power of a healthy perspective and relationship with yourself. But with the growing popularity of Blogilates, I’ve started to notice some disturbing changes.
The first red flag I caught was the changing titles of the videos. Previous workouts would be titled adorable alliterations, like Abominable Abdominals or Inner Thigh Insanity. However, in more recent videos the titles have focused on the changes that will occur in your body. For example, “The ultimate Hot Body workout for flat abs, slim inner thighs, perky butt and toned arms.” First red flag popped right up in front of me. The words Hot Body were exclusively defined by the consecutive descriptions of the body parts. Flat abs? Slim inner thighs? Are these the only characteristics that can define a ‘hot body’?
If so, my body doesn’t comply. I noticed this more and more – videos reoccurred like “How to get an inner thigh gap”. The main reason this bothered me was that I felt my exercise regime should be a way to increase my strength – to make me comfortable in my skin by making my skin stronger. These titles and messages were so focused on the final aesthetic product that they failed to include the importance of a healthy body for your physical health.
I don’t blame Cassey, though – She’s simply addressing the demands of her fan base, who ask for specific ‘targeting’ videos that would reduce the fat on specific ‘problem’ areas of their bodies. She is doing what any reasonable and wise businesswoman would do, which is continuing to produce the popular product. But it’s dangerous and troubling within itself – why should we follow videos that condemn specific ‘problem’ areas of our bodies? What does that even mean, anyhow? If these parts of our bodies are functioning in a healthy and productive manner, what is the ‘problem’? These questions and negative influences were pounding in my head, demanding answers. I felt discouraged by these titles, and felt disappointed that Cassey would continue to publish videos under this premise.
On top of everything, Cassey’s recipes and workout schedule demand 6 days of moderate to high intensity exercise (an hour workout each) as well as a diet between 1200-1700 calories. This too generalizes the dietary requirements of many young girls, and encourages the restrictive and obsessive tendencies of a dieting mentality. This meal and exercise plan doesn’t consider the individuals weight, activity level or bodily predispositions, and molds the female relationship with food and body into a formulaic equation to ‘maintain’ and ‘lose’ through a series of calculations and workouts. Is this really what constitutes a body positive and healthy relationship? Should we not promote intuitive eating and exercise practices, as well as a target in the healthy weight range as the epitome of health?
My feelings were compounded in a recent post that promoted a ‘healthy transformation’ back from eating disorders. Cassey posted true stories by previous sufferers of eating disorders, illustrating the ways in which the choice of Pilates and simply eating healthily could reverse the destructive effects of an eating disorder. If recovery from an eating disorder was simply a basic choice to eat healthily, then no one would have an eating disorder. If it were as simple as taking a healthy approach to exercise, then no one would have exercise disorders. This overwhelming generalization simplifies and belittles the complex, mental illness that IS eating disorders. It’s not a simple issue, and shouldn’t be reduced to a 3-paragraph blog post about eating kale and going on hikes. Portraying eating disorder recovery as a simplified and glorious journey to health is parallel to stating green juice and the elliptical can cure your bi polar disorder.
The comment section was littered with uninformed and casual remarks, such as “I had an ED in the summer, (only eating 300 cals) but I realized what I was doing was stupid so I just stopped.” which are entirely unrealistic and triggering comments. Statistics on the amount of weight survivors lost in small periods and the tiny portions they consumed only encourage those who are battling such illnesses to continue to push themselves to the ultimate breaking point. Pictures, displaying emaciated bodies were compared to ‘healthier’ versions, all of which were still in a low weight region. I truly don’t blame Cassey – she is not a registered physician, therapist nor psychologist, and has no way of understanding the impact of posts like these. But I can’t help but think the prominence of an eating disorder discussion on an exercise and health website shouldn’t be so distinct.
It truly saddens me to post this; because I feel the pressure for young girls to comply to the ‘perfect’ body and ‘perfect’ diet and ‘perfect’ workout regime is a prominent trend in the media and among blogs right now. It’s simply another addition to the long list of reasons girls are still inadequate. And it deeply saddens me that a community I once really enjoyed has become one that feeds into disordered thoughts and the encouragement as exercise solely for aesthetic ‘improvement’. So that’s why I’m breaking up with Blogilates, because it makes me body negative. Which is something that as a young girl, I’ve had enough of.
What do you think of Blogilates? What do you think about the new ‘health trend’ and the potential repercussions?