I read recently that Americans spent $33 billion dollars on weight loss products last year.
To me, that speaks to how desperate millions of us are to end the shame, guilt and emotional trauma that we are experiencing in relation to how we feel about our bodies. Add to this the related chronic medical conditions and preventable deaths caused by the obesity epidemic, and you have the necessary conditions to print money.
People are afraid and confused to find themselves sitting permanently outside the gates of what is increasingly becoming a class divide when it comes to beauty and fitness. The hottest fitness products right now are a series of luxury products that cost thousands of dollars to buy, and hundreds of dollars per year to maintain (Peloton, Mirror, Tonal etc). The pressure to have these products in order to be ‘fit’ or at the very least ‘fit in’ is being reinforced by ad budgets that run over $50 million dollars per month. That's a lot of cheese being spent to influence us to want to purchase extremely expensive fitness equipment.
Only the economically advantaged have the disposable income and space in their homes to either afford or accommodate this next generation of fitness technology. I'm not calling into question the effectiveness of these products, but rather, their availability to ordinary Americans in an economic climate where most families struggle to afford child care and pay medical bills.
It’s the corporate fitness giants that run the late night infomercials, ‘fitness’ magazines and most of the other recognized and authoritative sources of health information. These platforms exist primarily as marketing channels for funnelling as much of that $33 billion as possible to their bottom lines. The very publications that purport to stand for ‘women's health’, are the same companies that routinely present barely veiled marketing ‘advertorials’ from some of the biggest fitness manipulators - one of the biggest of which is just an old fashioned pyramid scheme (guess who).
Some fitness products can be valuable tools that you can leverage to optimize your workouts, while others are the equivalent of ‘magic beans’. In the magic beans category we have almost any pill or potion that you can buy in the weight loss section at the local drug store, almost anything that you can buy off of your television post 11:30pm, and memberships to training classes that the average person has no chance of completing because they are simply too advanced to be a realistic option.
I’m speaking from experience. I once tried a fat blocker / calorie inhibitor that claimed to bind around calories and pass them out of your system before they could be absorbed by the body. This product had been the subject of an aggressive advertising push, and had been hyped to the point of overcoming my usual cynicism. I also wanted to believe that it would work. I wanted something that I could take to help me deal with my self-esteem and body insecurity issues. On my second day of taking this product, I quite literally shit the bed. The pills caused ‘hot lava’ infused gas that was both uncontrollable and explosive. It gets worse. I was staying at the ‘W’ hotel in NYC at the time. Have you ever shit the bed at a hotel? It doesn't go over very well. Needless to say, this product was recalled some weeks later.
Knowledge is as close to free as it has ever been in the history of our society. When it comes to helping people achieve their weight loss goals, there is a responsibility as a business competing in a capitalist system that is in the midst of an obesity epidemic (largely of its own making), to tell the truth and make that truth inclusive to humans everywhere, regardless of their size, shape or socioeconomic conditions.
There are no fitness ‘secrets’ left. Stop buying into ‘celebrity’ fitness tips. Unless it's for a charity, celebrities only show up because they are either selling something or they are being paid to promote something. Period. This is equally true for fitness. If you see a celebrity on the cover of a fitness magazine, they are using it as just another sales channel for their new book, movie, show or product. It's for this reason that most fitness magazines have morphed into 'lifestyle' magazines that are very light on actual fitness content. 'Lifestyle' allows for much greater flexibility in promoting a wider range of products and services, which equals more profit hitting the bottom line.
This isn’t a call for some type of socialized fitness approach, it's just deciding that in our attempt to help you get fit and reach your goals, we won’t lie to you, sell you products that might be harmful (or useless), or use the pain, anguish and shame that most of us feel around our bodies to manipulate you into parting from your hard earned money.
To make the right choices for your health, you need to have straightforward, truthful information that empowers you to make a choice. You should not feel pressured by the corporate fitness media's constant parade of one size fits all perfect bodies. The fitness media should not control how we feel when we stand naked in front of the mirror. It’s time for their fitness fascism to end.
People have the right to question how beauty and body ideals are being presented in commercials, magazines and entertainment products that are being purposely targeted at us without fear of reprisals or being canceled.
This is not an endorsement to attack or bully people on social media, and there is a difference between having a judgemental, bitchy reaction to your old roommates new lips and looking at the larger beauty agenda as a whole. People are free to make their own decisions around how they alter their bodies, and I have zero issue with people making these personal decisions. That said, when it comes to pop-culture elites with tens of millions of impressionable followers, who have teams of people managing their persona, backed by studios that hold enormous media reach, we are talking about a multi-billion dollar agenda that has absolutely factored in how appearances influence the public. Unlike your old college roommate who just invested in her new set of lips, these people are knowingly participating in an organized system of oppression that is attempting to co-opt beauty standards (yet again) in a way that will normalize procedures and aesthetics that are only attainable by the ultra-wealthy. When the celebrated standards are beyond the reach of the masses, they can sell us their celebrity lines of nail kits, wrinkle creams and eye shadows to help ‘fix’ where we fall short of the surgeon's scalpel.
When you see the lead actresses on your new favourite show, and you involuntarily cringe because their faces can no longer move enough to express emotion, or if you were horrified to see our ‘friends’ reuniting and being barely recognizable, that reaction might not be a shallow judgement, it might be an emotional, body-level reaction to a system of beauty oppression that has presented these accomplished actors as wax-works attractions - because in this hierarchy, anything is better than the natural aging process. I would love to hear from the actors, models and singers themselves on this, but unfortunately the standard line is ‘nothing to see here’ or a denial that anything has changed.
Billions are being spent to normalize a post-aging aesthetic.
The accounts that we follow of 20 something supermodels showcase young women that have had multiple facial reconstructive surgeries, yet acknowledging the hidden ‘production’ of their appearances invites being labeled a troll. These accounts have hundreds of millions of followers, often young women and girls, and yet we can’t have open and honest conversations about the impact (good or bad) that these ‘influencers’ have on our collective perceptions. There is an impact.
These conversations need to happen, not to condemn an individual's right to alter themselves, but to get a better understanding of how and why this is happening, and what the larger agenda is for the corporate interests that are fueling this.
Friday rant over,
Thanks for listening. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
As many of you are now aware, we are pivoting out of selling home fitness equipment. With that in mind, we are selling out of our stock at our biggest discount of the year.
Use code BF35 to get an automatic 35% off at checkout. We don't sell magic beans, just top quality weights, dumbbells, bars, weighted vests, ropes and other old-school tried and true home fitness gear that deliver outstanding results. We are also a small, family business that supports itself by selling quality tools at fair prices. You can check out our 35% off sale here.