On Thursday, Reebok President Matt O'Toole posted an open letter to the newly elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — you know, the people who hand out Oscars every year — asking that they consider adding a "Best Fitness Trainer" category to next year's awards.
"We believe we must honor the bodies we’ve been given. And I’m asking you to honor those who help propel our favorite artists to fame and fortune along the way," he wrote. "There are hundreds of major motion picture actors and actresses that transform their bodies for roles each year. Fans cheer for them during thrilling stunt scenes and weep for them when their characters lose a pinnacle fight.
While their performances are lauded, their practice is not. The best scenes and storylines today often require amazing physical transformations, and actors and actresses rely heavily on a small field of expert trainers to get them in fighting, flying, and filming shape.
The Academy should celebrate the craft of fitness."
So, look, we have nothing against fitness trainers. In fact, we love them. They're often fantastic people doing really important work to help people reach their wellness goals. But fitness trainers don't need their own Oscars category, and giving them one would only further problematic understandings of what it means to be fit.
Making a "Best Fitness Trainer" award to be given to the people who help actors and actresses sculpt their bodies for certain roles relies heavily on the misguided idea that fitness is something you can see. It asks us to laud the trainers of people like Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel, who both bulked up for superhero movie roles, because their thin bodies and bulging muscles must mean they've put in a lot of hours with their personal trainers.
That may be true, but people like Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson may also have personal trainers. Yet, when we talk about larger people like McCarthy and Wilson training every day for their roles, it's often followed with a question of how much weight they lost, not how their fitness has improved.
It's unlikely were the Oscars to add a "Best Fitness Trainer" category, that trainers who prepare larger people for their physically exhausting roles would even be considered for the award. Instead, it would go to whoever helped an already conventionally attractive person get even hotter by dropping their body fat percentage as low as possible.
So, please, let's not give the world another reason to conflate fitness with physical appearance.
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