What are the politics of wellness and fitness?

What are the politics of wellness and fitness?


That’s New York City charm, right? So in 1960, President-elect John F. Kennedy
wrote in the pages of Sports Illustrated that he was disgusted with something that he
called the “Soft American.” What was the “Soft American?” What JFK saw was that Americans were getting lazy. The largely white middle class, as he saw it,
as needing to tone up in many ways. It was this grand national call for greater investment
in public physical education programs, community recreation programs,
basically things to get America moving. And then during the 1980s, what happens after this
report called “A Nation at Risk,” in which there was all this fear that American children
were falling behind in math, in science, in reading, you have this major backlash to spending money on
so-called frills like physical education. So what happens? Excercise, well-being becomes very much something that wealthy people have access to through
the private industry, and through the private sector. Whereas poorer people have less and less access to this. Here we are in the 21st century and this has
only intensified. To have the time to exercise, to have the money to join a gym, to shop at a food store that doesn’t rely on
and solely sell processed items, that’s actually a really big privilege today. I’m strongly of the mind that wellness and fitness
should be a universal human right. I think that both history and our contemporary
context really show us that all of these things, healthful food, the opportunity to sweat in a community,
to take care of oneself, that these are not luxury perks only
available to a privileged few, but these are all things to which we
should have universal access.

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