As soon as I saw the first preview for Khloe Kardashian’s new show “Revenge Body”, my heart sank. Love them or hate them, the Kardashians are everywhere which means they have a platform. No, I don’t think anyone is looking to them for political insights, but you might be shocked by how many young people do look up to them and aim to mimic them: their brand, their looks, their style or their ability to make money.
I watched one episode of the show (for research, people) and it was clear that the premise lived up to its name. Khloe takes chosen individuals under her wing who are looking to make drastic improvements to their health and bodies and provides them with a team of celeb-worthy experts–from trainers and nutritionists to style and beauty industry leaders.
So far, so good.
But here is where things took a turn for me. Based on the episode I watched, each of these individuals are specifically asked “who their revenge body is for”– an ex, a former friend, a family member. Essentially, they are asked to share the story of someone they have been wronged by or treated poorly by, which is meant to serve as motivation for them to get in shape. To get a revenge body.
Ugh. Red flag! Whether or not these people’s desire for revenge is real or just good-for-tv fodder, it sends the message that getting back at someone is a good reason to take better care of yourself. If there is one factor that I believe plays the BIGGEST role in whether or not people are successful in their wellness journeys, it’s The WHY. And, unfortunately, it’s the piece that so many of us overlook.
You can have all the tools, all the information, all the experts in the world but if you are making changes for external reasons, (i.e. to gain approval, to get someone's attention) they are far less likely to last…especially for those overhauling their habits and making drastic changes. Yes, learning how to do something is important. But to achieve long-term change, your reasons why are equally, if not more, important.
Approaching change from a place of hate or anger or revenge (whether directed inwardly at yourself or at someone else) is not a recipe for sustained success.
If someone nastily berates you to get you to comply with what he/she wants, it probably won’t end well, right? Maybe you acquiesce at first, or even for a long while, out of shame or fear or not knowing another way. But what is festering in you during that time and where does it ultimately lead? Chances are, it probably won’t lead to a positive end result.
Motivating ourselves to do something is no different. When coming from a place of self-loathing and shame, it may work for a bit. But only when we want better for ourselves because we BELIEVE we are worthy of better, do we find a meaningful, lasting result. Knowing you are worthy is a far cry from wanting to make a statement to someone else. And trust me when I say that your driving force makes all the difference in the world.
When I was deep in the throws of my eating disorders, external pressures only worsened my behaviors. In other words, when I was starving myself, if someone commented on how skinny I was, it only fueled my desire to control every morsel that went into my mouth. When I was bulimic and overweight, a comment about what I was or wasn't eating swiftly sent me into a rage of binging, hoarding food under my bed.
So, ya. I get it. “Revenge body” reads better for TV than “Self-love body”. Someone looking to get back at the ex that cheated on them is far more dramatic than someone looking to learn to love herself. But it also puts a very real message out there that has an impact far beyond that of TV ratings.
Sensationalizing this narrative of taking care of yourself to get your ex back or getting a killer body so the mean girls are left with nothing to say is seriously damaging.
Because then what? A year from now, or ten years from now, when your significant other is committed to you or the girls are jealous of how you look, what is driving you? What is driving you to take good care of your body and mind? What is driving you to be kind and accepting of yourself and others?
When there’s no longer a need for revenge, then what?
I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. What do you think about this new show and the notion of a "revenge body"?