These images were going to be part of one of my larger #photoshop posts, but no - This needs to be specifically discussed.
The image on the right is a #fitspo photo that has shown up throughout tumblr, pintrest, and god knows how many porn sites. I’ve seen it in the fitness tags multiple times now. But the image on the left? It’s not a copycat model, that’s the original photo.
The woman on the left is Denise Rodrigues. She’s a Brazilian fitness model and figure competitor who has gained a huge following on Facebook and Instagram. She has a degree in Law and is currently studying Physical Education, allowing her to safely guide both herself and others through the world of weight lifting. Rodrigues is the kind of allstar idol that you rarely get to see in this world.
But even she wasn’t good enough for fitspo. Her body had to be edited and her personality had to be erased before she could be accepted as “motivational.” The person that we end up with, the #fitspo woman on the right, doesn’t actually exist: Denise Rodrigues’ body was manipulated in order to soften the curves and thin the waist, while her head was replaced with that of another woman.
Apparently, a muscular black woman was not worthwhile or attractive enough to grace someone’s blog, therefore it was necessary to paste an Asian woman’s head onto her shoulders.
This is what #fitspo does to us. #Fitspo teaches us that a person’s body and appearance are what’s most important. Not their life, not their goals, not them as a person: Just their image. When you reduce a person to their body and claim that their sole purpose here is to appeal to you, then you not only erase their individuality, you are saying that your right to sexual gratification is more important than their right to bodily autonomy.
There’s a whole host of fetishization and racist implications here, especially considering how much black and Asian women have been hurt by the sexualization of their images. If you’d like to read up on that more, fucknofetishization has several links that will explain why the mindset associated with these photo manips is harmful. These sort of body edits are harmful on their own, but we can’t dissociate them from the racial fetishization that drives many people to seek out these images.
In the end: #Fitspo, especially fitspo that solely revolves around worshipping someone’s body, makes women interchangeable and declares that their individual identities are worthless. Value needs to be placed on the person, not the body itself. If you want to admire an athlete, talk about their hardwork, skill set, competitive record, etc. Talk about what they’ve actually done. Don’t reduce them to an object.