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Have you ever felt unathletic or out of place at the gym? So has celebrity trainer Massy Arias, and she’s tired of the exclusive nature of the fitness industry. “If you have a body, you’re an athlete,” Arias tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Fitness changed my life and shaped me as a person. I want to help women find their confidence through movement and through fitness.”
Arias strives to celebrate and promote inclusion, both in the fitness industry and as a beauty ambassador for CoverGirl. “I’m trying to change how women look at their bodies and find confidence in themselves, no matter what their body type,” Arias says. “The more awareness we bring to the space of beauty and diversity, the more pressure we’re putting on brands to actually include and start making products that really help all of us.”
For Arias, embracing fitness was a life-or-death situation. She used it to battle crippling depression that left her weak and malnourished. Now, she uses it to inspire her 2.5 million Instagram followers to turn their lives around, too.
But even though fitness saved her life, Arias knows the industry is imperfect, lacks diverse representation, and tends to leave out certain groups of people and perpetuate a harmful body ideal. So she’s working to change it.
As an individual with a large platform, she feels it is her responsibility to counter these stereotypes. Arias focuses on showing her followers that a healthy lifestyle fits for people of different shapes, sizes, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. She offers fitness and nutrition tips that work — like her healthier pho recipe and equipment-free exercises.
“I think it’s important in my industry to be diverse. I’m a Latina, if my parents would have put me in to play any sport, I think I would have been an amazing athlete,” Arias says. “I will say with confidence that in the Latina community, girls do ‘girl things’ and boys do ‘boys things.’ That’s not how I’m going to raise my daughter.”
Arias also believes diversity and body inclusivity go hand in hand, and she wants people to know that curves can be healthy, too.
“You don’t need to be lean in order to have health. You don’t need to have my muscles. I lift heavy and I have a certain nutrition, and therefore I look this way,” Arias says. “But then you have someone who’s a yogi, someone who may not be muscular and is still healthy, and you have someone with more curves, and that’s still healthy, someone who’s taking care of themselves and may carry more body fat than I do.”
By working to break down stereotypes, Arias has made strides in her own self-love journey as an Afro-Latina. “For so many years, I was pressing my hair, dying it and doing all these crazy things. And I never had the courage to say, you know what, I’m just going to chop it,” says Arias. “I think I’m in a platform right now where I have so many opportunities coming my way, that when I gave birth to my daughter and I saw this little rich chocolate brown girl with curly hair, it had me question myself and my character. The one person she needs to relate to is me, and [cutting my hair] is something I did for her and for my community.”
Ultimately, Arias wants to inspire others to embrace their uniqueness with confidence and happiness. “We’re like ice cream. We come in so many flavors and so many colors — why not embrace us? There’s not a specific mold of what beauty is and who can be beautiful,” she says. “As cliché as it sounds, we need to be comfortable being us, and when we exude confidence, even if you put a ton of makeup on, your personality is gonna make you more beautiful. You can be really pretty and have all this makeup on, but that’s not what makes you beautiful.”