MAC Cosmetics ‘Strength’ Advertisement Uses Muscular Female Model In Non-Insulting, Beautiful Manner

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There’s a peculiarly particular balance of so-called feminine qualities that our society tends to tolerate. Women are supposed to be lean but not muscular; athletic but not defined; soft but never squishy. It’s a balance few of us are completely capable of achieving, whether it’s because of ability or simply genetics. I, for example, have learned in the past that no matter how much I exercise or change my diet or alter my habits, my figure will always look very hourglass-y simply because it’s built that way. I am not capable of looking “waifish” (a look I used to covet as a teenager), and that’s just fine. I would rather retain my normal frame while gaining more muscle, in fact.

Oddly enough, though, I’ve increasingly noticed there’s a very specific type of body snarking that revolves around muscular women. We all know that our society often fat shames people they deem overweight and sometimes body shame those declared too thin, but many men and women consider very muscular women to be “gross” or “unappealing.” I find this strange, since — while I don’t remotely condone it — fat and thin shamers tend to at least cite health as a typical reason for being assholes. When it comes to insulting muscular females, this logic makes no sense; typically, those women work out frequently and eat incredibly well in order to achieve the bodies they have. Why insult them?

Well, it goes back to that “balance” thing regarding our bodies. We’re “allowed” to be strong and toned, but give us some solid definition, and bam — suddenly females are not “feminine” enough anymore. They’re constantly accused of doing steroids or being men, which is both absurd and insulting. On television, ultra-muscular women are typically cast as transgender (which is by no means a negative identity, but most muscular women were not born men; plus, television tends to insult the transgender community through most of these plot lines, as well).

For this reason, I was really excited when I opened an email from MAC Cosmetics last week and spotted this advertisement inside featuring a very muscular woman in a non-ironic manner. The subject of the email was “Fearless Femininity, Powerful Colour” which I think worked wonderfully with this photograph. The model looks gorgeous, strong and feminine, and I’m so happy MAC acknowledged that this is not only possible, but also admirable.

The print of the ad says, “Strike a beautiful pose, stand out and redefine the notion of beauty…” So hats off to you, MAC Cosmetics, you folks did an amazing job creating an ad campaign that shows the beauty of a muscular female body in a complimentary, gorgeous way.

Photo: MAC Cosmetics

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    • Jordan Blum

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    • threenorns

      stunning, stunning, stunning!!!! this is a *fantastic* and *flawless* photo!

    • sandra

      It’s an absolutely perfect campaign. My only worry is that they’ve potentially photoshopped her waist line (probably to add a bit more femininity to her figure to get that nice “in between” they were going for between beautiful and powerful). If she worked on her core as much as her upper body, her waist line wouldn’t have that much of a slimness to it. It looks… “too slim” to me. But other than that it looks like an absolutely stunning add and it makes me very proud of that.

      • Sam

        The wonderful thing about bodybuilding is that it actually creates those curves and slimness in the torso. My making the shoulders look wider with muscle, the waist looks smaller (even if it has more muscle and thickness than the average waist). Jelena Abbou (the model here) has very curvy bone structure, just google her. This is a good example pic:

    • OAllieG

      Yes, it’s beautifully done, but that’s the point for me: that it’s “done.” Please don’t get me wrong. I love femininity (as long as it’s not the helpless, simpering, damsel-in-distress kind); I like very much to put myself together with nice clothes, clean and styled hair, and makeup before I leave the house, and I believe in speaking softly and allowing my actions to testify to my strength, but this muscular woman, although presented in a “non-insulting, beautiful manner,” is still “presented.” A present all dolled up in glamorous clothing, her hair done to perfection, her makeup flawless, and all of it photo-shopped, I’m sure. So in the end, she still is representative of the problem: a false and unattainable standard of beauty presented for our consumption.

    • Blue

      My question is: is that really a real photo? Those muscly arms looks very photos-hopped to me. Did you check to make sure this is a real model?

    • Blue
      According to Jezebel, this lady is the model. If the photos on her web site are any indication, the photo in the MAC ad is ridiculously photoshopped to give her big arms (and giant hands.) I like the ad, and I am pro-muscly ladies, but this looks fake.

      • Alexz Graves

        She’s a professional body builder and a FITNESS model. Which is completely different from your typical waif-like models.

    • caroline

      It’s a gimmic and just another extreme. How many women really look like that? I welcome the day when we see women with normal bodies being used in advertising.

    • Alexz Graves

      The campaign is stunning. And I mean, really, what argument? Remember when people started praising magazines for featuring “full figured” models? I don’t understand why this is such a huge deal for society, we should be focusing on “healthy”, not thin, fat, or muscular. I decided to comment, because under your amazingly written article, at the related article spot ”
      Cameron Diaz Sparks 2011′s Most Harmful Celebrity Debate: Can Women Be “Too Muscular”?
      Read more:“. Why is it a harmful debate? Is US Magazine going to start a Stars Beach Bodies: Who is too thin? And who is too fit? We should not be arguing over who is healthy, but continue to focus on making America as healthy as possible.

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