The fitness and tabloid industries make tons and tons of dough off the idea that if you can just find the right combo of Soul Cycle and kale chips and chia seed pudding and intentional living, YOU TOO can have Jennifer Aniston's exact abs. The truth, of course, is that you probably can't. You can only have YOUR abs. Abviously.
Elizabeth Banks blew this whole thing wide open, alleges this HuffPo article, when she acknowledged that her teeny waist and razor-sharp cheekbones are the result of genetics, not hard work. "I didn't quite believe I was pretty for a long time," she told New Look. "I never thought about it. I'm very genetically blessed. I cannot deny it, but I work hard at keeping myself together. Yes, I have nice cheekbones and skinny legs but I can't take any credit for it."
Sure, you can work your ass off in the gym and get your body into the most awesome shape imaginable, but it's still your body, with all of the quirks and lumps and skin tags and weird hairs that make you you.
But even without delving into the our culture's greater obsession with asceticism, Banks' comment (which falls in line with previous ones the star has made on the subject) reveals the fraudulence of the celebrity fitness myth. By attributing her skinny legs to genetics and not a "five-step celeb workout," the actress suggests she didn't have any kind of superior discipline which allowed her to achieve the look. Moreover, Banks is asserting that there's no concrete exercise those at home can perform to get those same lean limbs (save from being born of her same lineage, which, good luck with that). Nobody doubts that many Hollywood stars put in a lot of effort to keep up with society's increasingly stringent standards of beauty. But in a reality where the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders cites a statistic that says only 5 percent of American females naturally possess the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal, Banks acknowledges the additional — often ignored — truth that a good portion of those stars also have bodies that are predisposed to take on a traditionally attractive physical form in response to their work.
By going "off script," the actress exposes the billion-dollar diet and fitness industries to questions they'd likely not wish to face: If we can't get Elizabeth Banks' legs no matter the weight-loss products, boutique gym memberships and personal training videos we purchase, then why should we give away our money in the first place? Follow that line of inquiry one step further and it becomes: Why should we place more value on a single type of body that so many people cannot physically achieve no matter what, and that some people can achieve through no work at all?
Are you really asking? Because WE SHOULDN'T.
All bodies are good bodies. Good job having a body, buddy!
Image via Getty.