Above is a commercial which has been making the rounds on Facebook the last day or so. In case you’re not able to watch it; we see a line of electric bikes set up in a line (all colored pink you’ll notice). Slowly, people (mostly women) approach the bikes and start using them. Doing so activates a digital pink line powered by the movement of all the bikes which shows a dancing man doing a “strip dance”. At the end, the man “goes around a corner” to pull off those digital undies and comes back with a sign in front of his bits which says, in French: “Bravo! You’ve burned 2000 calories! “. The tag-line for this commercial at the end is (loosely translated*, again in French): “Losing weight would be easier if it was more fun”. The ad seems to be for a water company “Contrex” which wants to be known as “your slimming partner”.
Okay. First off, let me say that I LOVE the idea of making exercising, moving around, FUN again instead of a drudgery intended to bore and yet be endured for the sake of “less fatness”. What I DON’T like and wish we could really REALLY move away from as a world; is the idea that even after making movement fun and a group activity that folks seemed to enjoy, the punchline is still: Hah! See, we made you (girls) work out and now you’ve burned such and such calories so forget all the fun, etc; it’s the CALORIE BURN that made it all worthwhile, amiright? *sigh* NO! Just make moving FUN. Period. The end.
Also very problematic is the way this is STILL marketed as a way for “girls” (yeah, not even women though you’ll notice that most of the folks using the machines are far from “girl”-aged) to lose weight. There is one older gentleman who climbs up on a pink bike at one point but overall the message is STILL that women, sorry “girls” will NEVER be accepted unless they lose weight. No. Never. What’s that adage? You can always still lose another 10% and be “healthier”? Yeah. Talk about setting the bar to “infinitely impossible”.
My thought? Set up video games that run on treadmill or bicycle power similar to this electronic dancing man. I know there are already such devices out there. Bring them to the limelight! Also? Remind folks that all that work they do standing and moving about in their daily lives is ALREADY a great bunch of exercise. Promote forms of movement that cater to people’s vastly different desires: group activities for those socialites, individual sports or games for those who would rather work on challenging themselves alone, different skill levels for varying levels of ability. Fight for government subsidies to create safe spaces around each nation to DO these sorts of activities.
But, above all, STOP equating movement with a Smaller Body. You set people up to ultimately fail and stop WANTING to move when the only goal is a smaller body which does not occur or does not last. Make the goal: Have Fun, Get Your Heart Rate Up, Enjoy the Movements Your Body is Capable of Making.
When you REMOVE the conflation between health and weight; you end up with people interested in, instead, working towards fitness goals that don’t involve smaller pant sizes or tighter dresses (you know, since we’re all worried about these “girls” you know). Fatness isn’t killing us sooner, isn’t taxing the healthcare systems more than actual illnesses, and is really only a measure (consistently and erroneously measured and analyzed) of how large your body is; NOT what it is capable of. Weight is not a proxy for behaviors. All bodies benefit from movement. As the awesome Dances with Fat writer Ragen so aptly points out:
There are exactly two things that you can tell by looking at someone’s size:
- What size they are
- What your personal preconceived notions and prejudices about that particular body size are
That is just perfectly put. Visual cues on fatness need to be disassociated from all the baggage we’ve attached to it.
We need to put our energies into efforts to spread the word that movement IS fun. It isn’t a payment you make to the gods of thinness. It is energizing and fulfilling and good for you body. No matter WHAT size that body may be.
*Literally: “One would lose weight better if it was more fun”