Fitness Health

Privilege, priorities and making time for the gym | Rosemary Rants

August 15, 2017
privilege, priority, working out, fitness

I know I spend a lot of my time giving out about privilege, in the form of policing what other people say and do, but I can’t help it – I’m easily irritated. (I have been trying lately to express my irritation in less incendiary ways, i.e. without offending anyone, so please, just holler if you think I’m failing.) On a serious note, I think this is a serious topic, albeit accessed in a slightly less serious way – via Instagram.

In short: one thing that makes me see red is when I see fitstagrammers (did you know I’m a fitstagrammer now, incidentally?!) talking about how the only difference between them and you (as the follower/viewer), is that they “really want it”. You, sitting at home, having not gone to the gym for days, clearly don’t want “it” enough.

See also “inspirational” slogans such as: “You won’t build the butt you want by sitting on it”, “Suck it up and one day you won’t have to suck it in,” and “Sweat more, bitch less.” Way to motivate people – with a nice dose of fatphobia and guilt. Fun!

What’s your excuse?

It’s those moments when you see someone talk about how they go to the gym twice a day. They might say things like “there’s no difference between me and you – you’ve just got to really want it”. It’s the same sentiment expressed by “fit mom” Maria Kang when she posed for a photograph with her three children and asked that women hold themselves to the exact same standards she holds herself, asking:

priority privilege fitstagrammers Maria Kang

It’s the kind of reasoning that implies that we’re all given the same opportunities in life; we’ve all got 24 hours in our day; we’ve all got crosses to bear; we’ve all got stresses. Well, here’s a newsflash: not all opportunities, lives, days, crosses or stresses are created equal.

Implying that the only difference between you, a social media influencer with visible abs and no full-time job (that is to say, no job that demands that you sit at the same desk from 8.30am until 5.30pm), and a working mother of three who’s four stone overweight and never has time to go to the gym, is that she doesn’t want it enough is so incredibly near-sighted and disrespectful that I’m surprised the point even has to be made.

It’s a matter of privilege

Ultimately, it’s about privilege – and the fact that those of us in positions of privilege often forget that not everyone else is in the same space. Going to the gym is not always “a matter of priority”, any more than doing a full face of makeup is, or dressing up “to make yourself feel better”. Some people – a lot of people – have a lot of different things going on in their lives that makes working out, doing their makeup, dressing up – hell, even getting dressed in the first place – incredibly difficult, regardless of how much they might “want it”.

I won’t deny it: I’m totally awed by people who get up every day at 5am, head to the gym before work and then prep all their meals at night. But I’m also really inspired by women who never shout at their children (and those who do, too, because parenting is hard). I’m amazed that anyone can patiently spoon feed a toddler who’s determined to throw all of his or her food on the ground. I see something every single day that makes me admire the woman involved – even if it’s complaining about bad service in a restaurant, helping someone with their shopping bags or just calmly arguing the point with a colleague who’s determined to shout her down.

Your determination to go to the gym is not a measure of your worth. You’re not better than anyone else because you work out more – and people who haven’t made working out their priority are not any worse off for it. They have different things going on, and that’s okay, but ultimately: it’s not about how much you want it. It’s about the supports you have in your life that enable you to pursue the things you want. So, y’know, let’s all try to recognise our privilege and empathise with those who find the concept of “just do it!” a challenge.

Like this? Read How to Get Started When You Really Can’t See How

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  • Reply Maire August 15, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    I completely agree with you Rosemary

  • Reply Mary August 15, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Yes! Absolutely dead-on.

  • Reply Jazz August 16, 2017 at 12:33 am

    I couldnt agree more!

  • Reply Kim August 29, 2017 at 2:37 am

    This is exactly what I want to express to my friends. 2 of them seemed to be too obsessed with getting in shape that it’s no longer fun for them. Thanks for writing this post!

  • Reply Lauren September 18, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Well said.

  • Reply Mags September 22, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I completely agree with you Rosemary- and it’s not just fitness bloggers that are guilty of this “you just need to want it enough” attitude. So many influencers talk about getting to where they are because of hard work, belief in themselves, and ambition. And while that can definitely be true, it’s also true that a lot of influencers are privileged, in the sense that they are educated, have been brought up in a developed country etc. So ya, I totally get where you’re coming from with this and glad someone else has pointed it out!

  • Reply Aine October 17, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Great post Rosemary. This shit makes me angry (well, annoyed). Esp yer woman with her 3 kids and bad attitude. I’m a Mum of 1 and have a full time job and finding time for exercise is very hard. And so I’ve never got back to close to the size I was before. And that makes me feel, well, awful about myself. I love seeing people encourage each other and have a bit of empathy. But then the internet is just a platform for people’s best and worst sides, isn’t it?

  • Reply audrey leighton November 7, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Oh I am so tired of the passive agressive guilt-tripping crap fitness bloggers feed their followers. Nope I’m sorry ‘Stacey’ with the six pack and bubble butt, you dedicate HOURS of your life to the gym, meal-prepping and perfecting your protein shake and SURE, YES SURE if I weresto dedicate as many hours as you do then perhaps I might look like you. But if I were to do that, I’d be late on rent and probably homeless because I have to work my two jobs so I can afford the protein powder you are currently promising will make me more like you. ALSO WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHER IMPORTANT COMPONENTS OF HEALTH?! Fitness bloggers RARELY talk about them. Like reading and mental health or relaxing. I actually believe those to be more important than just physical fitness. But hey it doesn’t matter if you’re a boiling mess of emotions and confusion internally if you have a sex pack and sculpted arms. Health goes so much deeper than just going to the gym and meeting your macros and I resent that the world of fitness bloggers does not address this more. Most of them feel quite vapid to me. It’s all, look at my ASS and ABS and buy this or do these 7 lunges for the perfect legs. I cannot deal with it.

  • Reply audrey leighton November 7, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    also i wrote sex pack instead of six pack.
    LOL. whoops.

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