Ah, the gym selfie. Subject of endless criticism both in person and online, the ‘gym selfie’ (a picture taken of oneself, usually in the mirror, while at the gym) has gained some notoriety. But I have a confession to make:
I am unapologetically pro-gym selfie. (See? 😉 )
A lot of the criticism of these pictures revolves around time-wasting and narcissism. Critics of the gym selfie, many of whom probably take themselves a little too seriously, state that people taking pictures in the gym is a waste of time — that they should be there to work on themselves, not to show off via Snapchat or Instagram. Gym selfie-ers are labelled as shallow and self-absorbed, and are shamed for using ‘workout time’ to snap some pictures of themselves and indulge in ‘attention-seeking behaviour’. People argue that ‘real’ athletes don’t care what others think and aren’t at the gym for approval from others (via social media) and are solely focused on bettering themselves.
Now, people take pictures of themselves at the gym for a multitude of reasons. I myself have been known to take quite a few, and I keep these photos on record to look at my progress over time. It’s super encouraging to look at a photo from six months ago and compare it with a more recent one in which my shoulders look more defined or my booty is looking rounder and more lifted. It’s hard to see little, incremental progress points when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror every day, so photos are a huge help in keeping motivated. I always felt self-conscious while taking progress pictures in the gym, like everyone was judging me and labelling me as someone who wasn’t ‘serious about fitness’ just because I was taking pictures of myself. Why are we looking down on each other for tracking our progress? We should be celebrating each other’s victories.
Girl, you worked for that butt and now you want to show it off? Good for you! I’m genuinely pleased for you. Snapchat it to everyone you know. Post it on Instagram. I’ll like the shit out of it! Working on our health and fitness is an achievement like any other, and deserves praise — so stop trying to make people ashamed for celebrating their achievements!
“But what,” you ask, “about those girls who are just in the gym taking endless pictures of themselves, not for progress but for fun? What about the girls who seem to spend more time taking selfies than working out?”
Well, I don’t have a problem with them, either. So they’re feelin’ themselves? So what?
While some of these Negative Nancy-type people do kinda have a point (it can be annoying if someone is taking up space in the gym for selfies while people are trying to use equipment in that area – don’t do that), I think that the majority of the problems that people have with gym selfies are related to the fact that we, as a society, are made uncomfortable by people who love themselves.
Unless they are sprawled across a squat rack, a bench, and are using 50 free weights in pursuit of the perfect selfie, is it really bothering you or impacting your workout in any way? The answer is no. What does seem to bother most people though, is seeing someone who is confident and happy with themselves. Isn’t that sad? So many of us are so insecure, have been brought down so far by the crazy expectations that society has of us, that we get jealous and mean when we see someone who is 100% ok with themselves.
There’s a saying that goes something like “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle” — and it applies to this situation. Be happy for people who love themselves! Clap for them! Cheer for them! You lose literally nothing by being supportive of people. Don’t be jealous or upset with a confident person because you aren’t there yet. Use them as inspiration to fuel your own self-confidence and self-love.
I am so excited for girls, especially, who think they look pretty. You take that selfie, girl! Brag about your progress and indulge in feeling great about yourself. Because in a world where women, especially (but also men!) are told that we are not good enough and are taught to hate our bodies and our physical appearances from day one, loving yourself is an act of defiance, and is an act that I 100% support.
The world would be such a lovely place if we could all be a little less judgmental. It’s an ingrained little voice in our heads that tells us to criticize others, but it can be silenced. Next time you see someone indulging in some gym-selfie action, tell the judgmental jerk of a voice in your head to shush and let them do their thing. Hell, maybe even follow them on Instagram. Let’s congratulate each other on self-confidence rather than trying to tear each other down. I’ve seen the results that support can deliver for health, fitness, and self-love, especially through online communities and social networks, and it’s crazy inspirational.
If you’ve never gym selfie’d before, I recommend you give it a try. Post it on Instagram! You’ll be surprised who you inspire and who you get inspiration from.