Within five years the 26-year-old, who has 8.6 million followers on Instagram and a series of wildly popular workout guides, has become a force to be reckoned with. In 2017, Australian Financial Review named the Adelaide-based personal trainer on their ‘Young Rich List’, estimating her worth at $63 million, and just last month millions of Americans watched her do push-ups on a coffee table on Good Morning America.
The numbers paint an undeniable truth: Kayla Itsines is a powerhouse. She is admired and adored in such abundance that women can’t help but pull on their best athleisure wear and pass over their credit cards at the very sight of her.
When we hardly have a shortage of aspiring fitness influencers, how did Itsines make it all happen? Through knowing what women want, some clever marketing, tireless nights, and attractive salad bowls, sure, but it’s Itsines’ washboard abs – the ones we’ve seen shared across every crevice of the internet – that are borderline iconic. Largely, in having the body to which so many women aspire, and in unabashedly sharing that body, Itsines built her kingdom piece by piece as if each selfie were a brick.
But in a culture obsessed with weight, making your body the crux of your empire comes with an eventual dilemma: Women’s bodies are policed so strictly, so harshly, in this Instagram age that daring to not bend to fleeting trends is akin to not matching your sports bra with your Adidas sneakers.
LISTEN: Some women are feeling so body-shamed, they refuse to get pap smears. Post continues after audio.
And suddenly, the body that Kayla Itsines was once celebrated for is what she’s now getting shamed for.
In accepting herself, Kayla Itsines – all 1.65 toned, trim metres of her – is rebelling against what a personal trainer’s body supposedly “should” look like in 2018. You only need to read the peppering of critical comments that season her social media feed to see that.