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How Safe is Your Mental Health from Overly Sexual Fitness Social Media Posts?

 

In this blog, I’m going to talk about what is happening in today’s society from the overly saturated and sexual ‘fitness’ posts that are dominating the fitness and social media industry.

If you are a frequent social media user, you already know exactly what I am talking about. Every time you jump on, you are bombarded with body parts such as booty’s in thongs, and targeted ‘bent over’ exercise videos and photos that are purposely shot to focus on a women’s booty.

Fitness on social media has become less about how to properly perform an exercise or educate someone on real health related issues, and more about what is the hottest angle that can be shot of a specific body part to get the most views.

I, myself, use to take photos for social media of half naked photoshoots back in the day. I am the first one to admit that I had unprocessed emotional traumas longing for self-validation, and ultimately love and nurture that was missing from my life.

Today, I think and feel very differently about myself and others I allow in my life.

After processing suppressed emotions that were lurking many years ago, growing tremendously mentally, spiritual, emotionally and physically, something beautiful happened.

I no longer needed validation from someone. I found a tremendous amount of peace deep within that allowed me to live and breath my passion, while positively contributing to society. I no longer felt that my exterior was all that I had to offer.

It inspired me to implement everything I was learning and experiencing to others, while raising awareness to the hidden truths within the fitness, food and health industry.

Currently, as the new year arises, and I continue to grow and better myself, I think about the youth today, and how if I had children what would they be inspired to see. What would really motivate, educate and help become the best version of them? What guidance did I not have, that I can give to someone else who is in search for themselves?

Knowing for a while, and feeling a disconnect from my old photos online, I made the decision to remove outdated photos from my social media that could possibly negatively effect someone’s psyche, or not benefit someone’s journey to becoming happy and healthy.

Yes, it would be naïve to say that a healthy and fit physique is NEVER a positive impact on others, however, I think only if done in a subtle way. I think it’s 100% empowering to feel free, confident, beautiful and sexy. And there is certainly nothing wrong with the human body and the hard work and dedication someone has put into it.

BUT cheapening yourself to gain likes may backfire on you and in the long run lower the effectiveness of how to really inspire one another.

Slowly we are de-sensitizing ourselves, and putting more pressure than ever to look a certain way. The question that arises is, “Do overly sexual fitness posts have a positive or negative impact on improving one’s health and fitness?”

After interviewing a variety of different individuals such as fitness models, women and men who are struggling with weight gain, and online business entrepreneurs, the ‘sex sells’ mentality is suppose to increase sales, and in turn get you ‘more exposure’ to benefit one’s business, brand, or image, while increase the number of followers for whatever you are trying to sell, whether it’s a detox tea, or workout program.

The criteria for more followers or ‘more sales’ in the fitness industry is; “If they see my body, they will buy my products’ or they ‘will like my photo’…hence “They will like me, “I can make money off my body”.

Men and women whom I interviewed struggling with low self-esteem, and weight gain found overly sexual fitness posts ‘discouraging’, and distracting from taking control over their own life. They also found excessive emphasis on cheat meals from fitness models such as, In and Out Burgers, or Monster Drinks, de-credited their knowledge of health and fitness. They felt they were ‘showing off’ and narcissistic as unhealthy foods and booty shots were being promoted.

The majority of over weight people said they felt depressed, frustrated, and worse about themselves from provocative fitness posts. They admitted to feeling ‘defeated’ and that they could ‘never look like that’ or ‘achieve that’.

Overly sexual fitness posts can actually be quite counter productive for someone who is struggling with low self-esteem.

A word of advice that I can give people posting with the ‘sex sells’ mentality is only short lived. What else are you offering people besides your body? Are you really helping someone if you are promoting health and fitness? Long term, how will this benefit your career, goals and aspirations? What happens when you age?

Did you know that studies show the role of overly sexual fitness posts on social media can lead to development and/or encouragement of eating disorders, disordered eating, and body dissatisfaction?

Being once in the medical field as a nurse, now as a health and fitness specialist and business owner, I am always interested in learning what drives someone.  People that are not motivated to workout are looking for something to belong to. Someone to trust and be empowered by. Someone who is real and honest. Throughout my own journey, I have transitioned away from the glamour model world and into helping people get in shape through knowledge, experience and inspiration, that does not involve degrading myself.

Here is what I’ve learned. Over time people are becoming significantly confused between the distinction between reality and fantasy.

If you were my client looking to loose weight, it would be inappropriate for me to show up in a sports bra, booty shorts or bikini bottoms to make you feel motivated. Yes, in turn this can be motivating for someone to see your hard earned work. But I believe it should be done with class and not so obvious. Sure, if you are in top shape, you can see what someone’s body looks like through your workout clothes. But big deal, what else are you offering to help this person who has come to you to change their life?  Someone who is training one on one with you know really wants control. Control over their mind, body and soul in which they have lost.

How is this giving them control over their own life?

They want knowledge, self-growth, guidance, experience and accountability. They will not just stay your client, or succeed in their goals because you have a nice booty.

Imagine this……you are training a female client, and while they are working out they are starting to feel discouraged or challenged during the grueling workout…and you tell them, “Hold up! I’ve got the solution so that you can push through it!” You stand in front of your female client and bend over with a booty pose. Ha ha ha.

It sounds silly right? So why would it be effective to do it online?

Do you think that helped motivate her more? It can be the complete opposite of what someone who is struggling with low self-esteem needs to see.

This brings me to my next question…What do you really want to achieve online for your viewers? Is it really about helping someone succeed in taking control over their life? Or is it about showing off or self-validation?

Are we becoming de-sensitized to that sort of behavior, where we ourselves cannot see that it is spiraling out of control? Are we de-valuing ourselves, while actually discouraging others? Are women and men feeling pressured into portraying themselves this way on social media to gain popularity?

Social media has become the driving platform for women and men to seek out images of what we want to look like, and use it as an outlet for self comparison that may intensity existing self-esteem issues. It has become a viscous circle of putting ourselves out there in an overly sexual light, calling it fitness, then criticizing and analyzing ourselves and one another.

Until we raise the mental awareness and inner peace of one’s self, we will continue to reassure that our body parts are all we have to offer, while increasing pressure, body distortion and depression in others.

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By | 2017-01-08T20:16:31-08:00 January 8th, 2017|Fitness|9 Comments

About the Author:

Laura Michelle Prestin is one of the industry’s leading internationally published fitness models in the world. Laura holds a degree as a Registered Practical Nurse specializing in health, fitness & anti-aging. Laura also attained a Bachelor of Arts degree from McMaster University. Read More About Prestin or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

9 Comments

  1. Lauren D. January 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    This is so spot on!! I feel like too many times I got so caught up in wanting to work out and get healthy so I could look like someone else. Everytime I made progress I’d tell myself it wasn’t good enough because I didn’t look like that person so I’d give up. It’s so crazy how the images that are supposed to motivate us actually do the complete opposite.

    • Miss Prestin January 19, 2017 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Lauren! Thank you for commenting and expressing your thoughts on this topic. Believe me, I use to do the same thing in comparing myself to others. And you find yourself never happy or satisfied with how you look and feel. It’s a very toxic mentality that is nothing but unhealthy for you.

      The healthier our mind becomes and the more we align with our true self or our inner self (that little voice), the more we can focus on our own progress and ignore the noise that is all around us.

      I felt that I had to write a blog about this topic as many people, especially women, are greatly effected by these types of posts. Instead of turning a blind eye, I find it’s more effective to openly address it, and be able to look at these types of posts and not let it trigger or effect us. It challenges us to build mental and emotional strength to view these sorts of things from the outside, and say ‘I use to be that way’, or realize how it is unhealthy.

      Your testimonial photos look amazing by the way!!! Congrats on all your success and really changing your whole perspective on life, health and fitness!

      Prestin xo

  2. Iryna January 16, 2017 at 7:16 am - Reply

    Love this post! I admire you and love all your blogs! I have already bought all the three programs and they are great! And really I fed up of seeing semi-naked, almost always fake butts telling do this exercise and buy this belt, etc…And for us women, I believe that our body is ours and something very valuable and private to share it with everyone….

    • Miss Prestin January 19, 2017 at 12:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Iryna! 😀

      Thank you so much for the kind words and I am glad you are enjoying the programs!

      It’s awesome that you value yourself from the inside out. Although at the start of my modeling career I was also exposing and devaluing myself through similar types of posts, I definitely took it as a learning curve to know I was only seeking for approval, and ultimately love and nurture that was missing from my life.

      This is truly why I created PrestinFit, not just to put out a workout plan, but for people to use exercise and proper nutrition as a tool to access your inner strength and overall mental, spiritual and physical fitness necessary to conquer all of live’s challenges.

      Thank you for expressing your thoughts and feelings on this topic! Feel free to comment with any other thoughts, questions, and or concerns you may have 😀

      Prestin xo 😀

  3. Rachel January 29, 2017 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    Hi!!! Yes yes yes!!! I’m a RN and fitness social media drives me crazy at times! I’ve competed in 6 NPC competitions (masters bikini) and did my last one this past September. I admidt when I started to lose weight for my first show I posted pics on Facebook and IG. A part of me was so excited about how my body changed and the other part loved the attention that I was getting. (And btw your photos I think are still gorgeous and they were I sporting for me). Anyway ironically from competing and the changed my body as gone through (rebounds / adrenal fatigue) gave me strength and growth! I’ve grown physically, mentally and spiritually. I’m a stronger woman today who loves herself! I couldn’t say that 4 years ago.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences!!! Very admirable!!!! Your very inspiring!!!!

    • Miss Prestin January 30, 2017 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Rachel! 😀 Thank you for sharing and commenting! Congrats on all of your success in the medical and fitness industry.

      I think it is truly refreshing to hear about your mental, physical and spiritual growth and happiness. Just as you have experienced, you realize what is important and what is not. You learn to not worry about what other people think of you, and more about what you think of yourself.

      You realize how far you’ve come, as you think back to your old thoughts and actions. At the end of the day, we did the best we could with the tools we had at that time. There is not an experience, the good or the bad, that goes to waste. We create ourselves through these ups and downs, and through others.

      Nothing feels better then to live a life that is true to yourself, and not the life others expect of you.

      Much love and happiness to you and your journey!

      Prestin xo 😀

  4. SomeGuy123 March 19, 2017 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    Just so you know where this opinion is coming from, I’m a 20 year old heterosexual guy. Laura, I’d say this article should be turned into a book! I totally agree with your views, and I also feel that today’s society live in a constant double-moral about this issue, specially with women. Now they tell women to feel empowered and confident to show off their bodies, and use that as an excuse to keep selling with sex and disguising low self esteem and validation needs. I’m all in for women (and men) to do whatever they want with their bodies as long as they don’t hurt themselves, and that part I think is the key. Plastic surgery, photoshop and overly sexual posts are fine AS LONG AS YOU DONT HURT YOURSELF, physically nor mentally, but people seem to always go to the extremes of everything, abusing all these things. When I see these guys and girls on social media sharing hundreds and hundreds of sexual, heavily edited photos of themselves, displaying steroid-induced tight bodies and surgically enhanced faces, I always wonder, what else do they have to share with the world? They know they have influence and they actually want that influence and attention, but never want to use it for something positive, something beyond “look how perfect I look and how perfect my life is”. And you know what’s even worse? Those who like you and me realize these stuff, are called haters, and envious (a.ka “you’re just mad cuz u know u want to be like them”), and for those who quit the game like you did, people just unfollow and go to the other zillion hot girls who are willing to show their tits and asses to keep the consumers satisfied. Of course I would like a healthy, good looking physique and clothing and such, who wouldn’t want that? But the thing is, at what cost do I want that? At the cost of being a steroid user and preaching to my fans that everything is possible through hard work? At the cost of telling young girls to accept themselves and be confident while posting photoshopped pictures of my surgically enhanced body? Shouldn’t the message be, instead, “use steroids if you want, use plastic surgery if you want, but know that those things won’t heal your deepest insecurities nor will they make you a better person, worthy of admiration”. But if that was the case, the sales would drop, because what keeps people hooked is the feeling of hope. Why should a instagram star has to admit that he/she had a liposuction, had ribs removed, jaws enhanced, had butt implants, teeth whitened, has used steroids, etc? Many people would certainly stay, but maybe others would leave and that’s not good for the sales. Ask a guy if he likes those sexual pics and many will answer “hell yes”, but if you ask instead, “would you be proud if it was your sister/daughter/mother the one in those pictures? And many will say no because it is something seen as unworthy of respect (I believe any job is worthy of respect as long as you don’t sell your dignity), and way deep we all know that social media pressure is hard enough to make anyone give up their dignity just to stay relevant, with trends being more and more sexual. That’s part of the double sided moral we live in. Thanks again for this article.

  5. Miss Prestin April 13, 2017 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Hi SomeGuy! First off, I wanted to say thank you for sharing this with everyone and commenting on this topic. It is nice to know that there are people like yourself who demonstrate a high level of awareness of what is going on in the world. I couldn’t agree with you more on all points you have addressed here. I liked that you mentioned about hiding behind deep insecurities through external measures. I was guilty of this a very long time ago. And until you heal yourself from within, and free yourself from relying only on things that give you certainty, you will never have peace of mind. One of my favorite quotes is “Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows
    with the ability to say no to oneself.” ― Abraham Joshua Heschel
    -Thank you,
    Prestin xo

  6. Simon Lim October 17, 2017 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura,

    As you continue to post up on my instagram. You have peaked my interest about you. I totally agree with this topic about butt selfies. I see it everywhere on instagram. It’s validating self worth and satisfication to show their booty online. I think you have matured over the years and came a long way as fitness and health professional I think you are intelligent and funny. I think what you do online is making a big difference and positive view on things. I love following you and how you express that being natural is the way to go. Health all the way.

    Simon Lim
    CEO and Founder of LiveBioFit, LLC

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