I’m about to unroll one of those ubiquitous and futile spiels where someone past their prime gets their knickers in a knot about the state of society and how much better it (probably never) used to be.
So it all started when I was scrolling through Instagram in the usual manner – back turned on my child, mouth slightly agape, brain on standby. I follow the page of a 25-year-old Australian personal trainer called Kayla Itsines. I do this out of nothing other than morbid curiosity. I never have and never will try her #BBG, which of course stands for Bikini Body Guide. And if you didn’t know that you’re clearly not one of her 6.6 million followers. What have you been doing? Engaging with real life?
Anyway, on Kayla’s page, young women post before/after pics of their bodies. The before pic usually looks kind of fine and the after pic looks like they’ve been stranded on an island where the only food is kale and the only shelter some kind of gymnasium. In return Kayla showers them with emojis and words of encouragement. It’s all quite sweet but what pushed me over the edge was a recent post in which Kayla posted two photos of her own body which consists of 100 percent muscle and a ponytail.
In each image she was wearing orange hotpants and matching bra and staring into her phone and beyond that a mirror. Behind her was an exercise bike – it was like one of those spot-the-difference games, but here’s the weird thing: there was no difference.
I think as a species we’ve hit peak self-absorption when we post two identical images of ourselves to millions expecting to blow them away by differences so miniscule the human eye cannot detect them.
And thus it was in this spirit of myopic righteousness that I read Britt Mann’s cover story on Miriam Lancewood who doesn’t own a phone nor a mirror nor, I’m willing to bet, orange hotpants. And yet she’s vital and beautiful and for a minute it seemed like she was the one with all the answers. Until I got to the part about the goat... That’s on page 14.
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