My distaste for the phrase bikini body & sensational advertising

I don’t have a workout video for you today! I’m so sorry! So much going on and I’m dog-sitting for a friend. But I do have a very important topic that I want to discuss with you: The phrase “bikini body” and the sensational advertising people use to prey on women to sell products. This post ends up going into many topics so I will apologize now for any tangents it takes. Bear with me!

I kind of despise the phrase “bikini body”. I will never use it. But it’s running rampant right now as spring approaches. You know summer bodies are made in the spring don’t ya?! If you have a body and you put a bikini on it then you have a “bikini body”. But many fitness gurus have taken that phrase, slapped it onto their programs and bootcamps, and convinced women their bodies aren’t good enough to be in a bikini so they must buy these products.

Your body is good enough. To wear anything you want.

Usually their websites or instagram accounts are splattered with before and after photos. Hashtags show the thousands of women doing these programs, most of which use calorie restriction and too much exercise to get quick results that don’t last. If you showed the after/after photo I bet more than half of these women will have gained the weight back.

Because slashing calories to low levels and doing too much activity is not sustainable. Or healthy.

It seems I’m not the only one calling out people doing this disservice to the fitness industry. This was an interesting post. Another trend I see, which is appalling, is people who win a bodybuilding competition and start doing fitness coaching and meal planning with no credentials at all. Face palm.

Genetically only certain people will have a thin or “toned” body and even fewer will be able to get that athletic/muscular look. I hate to break it to you but there’s only so much you can do with your body. Don’t believe the lies that everyone can look one way or do one program to achieve it. And how boring would this world be if we did?!

We need to discover what our bodies can do and work with it rather than against it. Body love. Not hate.

I don’t need to use sensational advertising to sell my programs. My expertise and credentials speak for themselves. Take Kaytee above for example. She had amazing results working with me. There are 6 months between the first and last photo and she’s still going. There was no 21 day fix here. She didn’t do cardio obsessively (if I recall she might not have done much at all!) and we kept her diet about 200-300 under maintenance for her activity level. Not a big deficiency there.

Could she have gotten these results faster? Sure. But that’s not my style of coaching. I don’t need to WOW you into working with me.

If you want to get a body that you feel comfortable in, that is healthy and strong, that allows you to go up flights of stairs without being winded, that allows you to carry all your groceries and move your own furniture around, that sets a good example for your family and friends, then I can help you do that. I may just be the fitness coach for you. If you want to get rapid, shocking results as quickly as possible then you might want to look elsewhere. Side note: If you’ve been thinking of working with an online coach in the vegan community other than myself feel free to contact me to get a referral. If they are vegan I almost certainly know them and their credentials and wouldn’t lead you astray.

It’s surprising how those who use this kind of “bikini body” language and put out one-size-fits-all programs that aren’t sustainable or even safe for everyone to follow are selling way more programs than me. Why is that? It makes me sad that a large percentage of women will succumb to this kind of advertising and will do anything to get a thin (but weak) body. But I can relate.

About 5 years ago I was in a place where I wanted so badly to stay thin (but thankfully never got dangerously obsessive about it). I never yo-yo dieted or exercised all the time. When I lived in Los Angeles and wrote my first book I thought being thin would sell the vegan lifestyle and more books. I weighed 15 pounds less than I do now. But I still hated my body and tried to hide it as much as possible. I never lifted weights. I bought into the lies that are told by so many in the vegan/plant-based community that I needed to be thin to set a “good example” to others. And I’m positive that many other people in my position feel the same way. I realized that’s bullshit (a couple of years ago I talked about this very topic). Many different sizes of people are healthy. Your appearance alone does not determine your health or how much you can inspire someone.

Once I got into fitness and the bodybuilding world I became enamored with a different type of body. I traded my thin and weak image for a muscular, ripped one. Some would even say I replaced one evil with another. But at least my new lifestyle afforded me strength, endless energy, power, performance, confidence, and a healthier body image. It’s funny how getting into fitness and bodybuilding brought to light more struggles women face when it comes to their appearance (the flip coin of being skinny).

I became a champion for bodies of all shapes and sizes even though my own diet and exercise plan was to create a physique that made me happy. I posted some blogs that got me a lot of shit from people in the community about size-shaming and body acceptance. I was told I was promoting obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle because I believe you can be healthy at various sizes.

Which brings me to the question, can you care about your physical appearance and still be a warrior for body acceptance?

As someone who teaches others to embrace their bodies but is constantly working to improve upon my own, how can I help my clients achieve the results they crave in the healthiest ways without obsessing about the number on the scale?

Even deeper than that, can you be a feminist and want to look a certain way?

These are questions I continue to ponder. These topics have to be discussed. In the age of fitspiration, fitness magazines, strong is the new skinny, get your bikini body advertising, and the continued obsession with our bodies we need to have these open conversations. I have been enjoying blogs like Fit is a Feminist Issue, Everyday Feminism, and Super Strength Health to help me see the different views and discussions on how to make things better for all women. If you know of any other bloggers that discuss these issues please post the link in the comments!

Obviously this is not the end of the conversation for us, dear readers. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. Great post Christie! It’s so true and intensifies the huge pressure on women to fit the ‘one size fits all’ vision of a svelte beach goddess with long tanned limbs bouncing across a beach or perched on a poolside. Simply empowering people to feel happy, healthy and confident whatever their shape, in summer clothes and ultimately a bikini, should be where the focus goes.

    You ask “can you care about your physical appearance and still be a warrior for body acceptance” YES! Self care is about accepting your body whilst on the journey to reach your potential. I think it’s a similar philosophy to saying ‘I workout because love my body not because I hate it’.

  2. Thank you so much Jo! I was a bit worried when I posted this but you are totally right! Self-care is so important.

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