Body Image and Quarantine – Fighting Against the Productivity Myth

Body Image and Quarantine: Navigating the Productivity Myth

Content creators across their various platforms have jumped at the chance to publish cutting edge material designed to set them apart during the Covid-19 pandemic, and fitness influencers are no different. It feels nearly impossible to log onto any one of your various social media platforms without seeing a new post about some sort of “quarantine diet”, at-home workouts, or posts with an underlying tone of shame for not embracing all of this new “free time”. A consistent theme throughout Covid-19 messaging is the theory that everyone should be taking advantage of the stay-at-home orders by learning new skills, starting new businesses, and taking steps to “improve” one’s body by taking up new workout routines or dieting habits.

These messages are multi-faceted: with the closure of gyms and studios, there are people who are genuinely looking for fitness alternatives. However, the insistence that everyone needs to be using this time to “better” themselves is not fair and is ignorant of the circumstances that most of our fellow community members are facing. With the constant and ever-present expression that now is a time for productivity and achievements, people may begin to question their successes and efforts made during their time in quarantine. This can be especially true when it comes to issues of body image and the messaging we are exposed to regarding our bodies and how to treat them and how they should look during this time.

In short, you are not “lazy” for not being able to or not wanting to use your free time at home to exercise. For many people, the idea of having “more free time” is not the case at all due to increased need for childcare, the continuing job expectations for essential workers, and the innumerable other responsibilities and stressors placed upon people during this time. The idea of “hustle” mindset comes from the ingrained capitalist frame that we can “increase” our worth through productivity and subsequently are led to believe that if we do not use this time at home in a productive manner, we are failing in some way.

This mindset can be particularly damaging when it is targeted at fitness and body image during quarantine. For people whose regular routines were entirely changed by the pandemic, exercise routines and gym plans where most likely pushed to the wayside. When met with content insisting that one must push themselves regardless, it can turn into damaging rhetoric reflecting on a person’s self-worth and their feelings towards their body.

Throughout this unprecedented time, it is more essential now than ever to be kind to yourself and your body. Do what feels right for you – a home workout may be just what you need! But if you feel yourself being negatively affected by the content you are taking in related to what you should be doing with your body, you do not have to feel bad about unfollowing fitness or “wellness” accounts whose impact have the opposite effect. Feel free to contact the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, and follow our social media for more information as to how to stay mentally well during a pandemic.

For more resources about pressured productivity, check out these websites for more information:

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