“Ugh, I’ve completely wasted this time in quarantine. I should’ve lost 10 pounds and gotten abs by now.” Does this sentence sound familiar at all? It does to me, especially amongst Twitter and TikTok posts. Before I continue any further, I want to say that there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself. If you want to work out and eat more nutritiously in order to attempt losing 10 pounds, amazing, go for it. Most people have insecurities about their bodies; it’s a normal feeling. Feeling confident in who you are is one of the most important achievements one can make, but I’m talking about the frustrating, maybe even anxiety-inducing idea that right now is the time that you have to change physically in order to create a supposedly better you.
How unfair is it that society pressures us into feeling as though we must change something about our appearances to be better? In the past few months, you may have seen videos of people at the beginning of quarantine versus the current day, in which weight loss is evident. To reiterate, there is nothing wrong with losing weight in a healthy way. However, I find that these videos can be problematic or triggering because they can imply that during this time, people should be losing weight and trying to “tone up.” The online fitness industry is booming right now. With gyms being shut down, many of us are turning to YouTube workouts, Instagram live workouts, etc. It isn’t a bad thing that people are using this time to explore different types of exercise and improve their physique or overall health. Really, the problem arises when there’s a TikTok video that is telling young and impressionable teenagers to intermittent fast in order to lose weight, chew gum to curb their appetite, and do two workouts a day to increase their calorie burn. It forces us to think that one, we should be using this time to do whatever we can to “improve” our physical appearance, and two, it advocates that we do so in a way that is destructive to our bodies, and that is a no from me.
It’s very hard to continuously come across the kinds of videos that might contribute to feelings of guilt or self-doubt about the way you look. And at this particularly difficult time in which life is drastically different than it was a year ago, sometimes you can’t help but feel like you are “wasting time” if you are sitting on the couch instead of walking outdoors. When you come across anything that promotes unhealthy exercise or eating habits, it is extremely important to acknowledge the probable harm that those kinds of habits will cause to someone’s physical and mental health. Eating disorders and exercise addiction are serious issues and it seems that they are being promoted now more than ever, which is appalling to say the least. Always remember that you can not and should not hold yourself to such high standards all the time, and that missing a workout and making a microwave meal is a perfectly acceptable and oftentimes necessary thing to do.
Unfortunately, society and social media work together to ensure that everyone feels the need to have a “supermodel body,” which is not realistic at all and never will be. Neither will exercising twice a day or skipping lunch; the end of those stories are always the same: everything comes crashing down and you’re back to where you started, only you’re even unhappier and less motivated than before. So instead of that, I suggest aiming for an improvement on self confidence, self love, and self care, because at the end of the day those are the things that will really result in a post-quarantine “glow-up.”