Earlier this year, Equinox, launched a series of print ads featuring unrealistically thin models that degraded and sexualized women. Now the upscale gym chain is back with yet another offensive ad–this time telling us that skinny girls are really just “skinny fat” girls, which gives us a whole new set of body-image issues to worry about.
The new ad features an extremely thin nude model whose body is mostly hidden behind a red circle asking “Are You Skinny Fat?” It’s obvious from the way she is posing that she is trying to hide her “fat” body. The term, “skinny fat” refers to people who are of a “normal” weight yet they still have excess fat on their bodies. Um, don’t we all?
According to the Mayo Clinic, this “normal weight obesity” though is beyond the usual amounts of fat someone might have–it’s someone who may look thin but have an unusually high ratio of body fat in comparison to their weight. In other words, someone who looks good in jeans and a sweater, but not so much in a bikini according to the Urban Dictionary who defines “skinny fat” as “thin and looks great in clothes, but is all flabby underneath.”
True, excessive fat–whether someone is thin or overweight, can lead to an increased risk of heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. And true, we live in a society that is more obsessed with how much someone weighs versus how much toned muscle mass they have. But this ad goes overboard to make that point. Because we also live in a society that is dangerously high on eating disorders and negative body images. To tell people that they are potentially “skinny fat” only puts more anxiety, stress and pressure on women to strive for the perfect body–which we all know doesn’t exist. It just makes all of us feel more shame and more self-conscious about our bodies, even if we’re thin.
Fat-shaming anyone, thin or fat, does nothing to motivate anyone to lose weight, lose fat or get in shape. In fact, according to body-image expert, Geneen Roth, it does quite the opposite. Only when we are kind to our bodies and ourselves can we truly get fit and healthy.
And while an Equinox representative told Business Insider that the poster is just part of an internal marketing campaign, not their overall advertising campaign (meaning it will only be displayed within their gyms), it still reeks of body-shaming, fat-shaming and degrading women. Not the kind of motivation we need to stay on the treadmill for another 20 minutes.