If You Weren’t Adding To Body Image Issues, I Might Buy Your Video

I love Gwyneth Paltrow. I admire her, I think she is beautiful, I think she is talented. She seems like a smart, sensible person who likes to have fun. I’m a smart, sensible person who likes to have fun.

I also admire her physique, which we do not share. Ms. Paltrow writes about her trainer, Tracy Anderson, like on this blog post about how she got into shape for the new Iron Man movie. In it, Paltrow links to an Anderson butt and leg work out you can buy. I’ve been to Anderson’s website and tried her 9 minute enticement video. It was pretty good.

But here’s the problem: Anderson used the word “perfect” when talking about the kind of body I can have. That seems wrong. I can’t have the perfect body because I don’t have the same DNA as Gwyneth Paltrow. Or any other other celebrity who has a body I think is amazing. I have my DNA, which is decidedly NOT perfect. I can lose weight but I’ll always have hips and boobs. End of story.

Words like “perfect” are red flags for taking advantage of people’s insecurities to sell weight loss products.

Then there’s the “baby food diet.” Apparently, Anderson is out touting her idea that women can eat baby food all day and then eat an adult meal and lose weight. It probably works. Baby food is low in calories and fat. But is healthy? What do doctors and nutritionists think of this diet? Is Anderson a nutritionist? It sounds crazy to me. Wrong. Again, manipulative. (Thankfully Paltrow admits to eating actual food – what I like about her – and gives some recipes on that blog post.)

Anderson is pretty but not real. She has the “I’m amazing!” look that women in the Victoria Secret catalogues have but she does it on her videos. She is mugging during the work out. That’s weird to me. I want my trainer to be a regular person who doesn’t think she is better than me, just further ahead.

The butt and leg video is interesting – my ass is showing my age more than my wrinkles do. If I give this woman my money, though, it says I approve of her sales message, which I don’t. In fact, I think it perpetuates a myth that is dangerous to women. So, she won’t be getting my money and I’ll have to live without knowing the secret to a smaller, perkier butt  and how to never need squats again.

And I have to admit that the more Ms. Paltrow helps Anderson sell that message without questioning it, it knocks her pedestal down a little.

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3 responses to “If You Weren’t Adding To Body Image Issues, I Might Buy Your Video

  1. As usual, I find your observations to be spot-on, L. One of the sneakiest and most manipulative ways to get people to buy your product is to play on their insecurities. It’s totally disgusting, in my opinion, and I’m horrified that our economy is built upon this sort of predatory marketing. Certain religions use this tactic as well, manipulating their members by telling them that they were “born in sin.” Making a person feel guilty about something weakens them and opens the door to mind control and further manipulation. Ex: “The only way you can go to heaven is if you do what I say, and by the way gay marriage and legalized abortion are the biggest problems faced by our society in modern times, and OH – give me money or God will call me home” What?? How can people buy into this shit?? It’s totally insulting to one’s intellect. So maybe I just answered my own question.

  2. Dear I’m no Expert. I completely agree with the refusal to buy into marketing ploys targeting our emotions. I know I am not perfect, and that’s ok. Even in my 20s when I was a size 2 (I am 5’8″, by-the-way), I was still not perfect! Now nearly 40 with two kids in my life, I will settle for fit and healthy over perfect. I will never be a size 2 again, and that’s fine. I will, however, be happy with myself in my own skin, and will be healthy, THAT is the important thing. Thanks for standing up for reality!

  3. Ask a man (or a lesbian, for that matter) if a skinny buttless, boobless woman is perfect. My husband would flip if I came home one day and announced I traded my butt and boobs for visible rib bones and thighs that don’t touch.

    The problem is that we ladies have let other ladies, and the men of the fashion industry – two groups who are not turned on by women – dictate what is “perfect.”

    My husband is an artist with a lot of artist friends. I follow his google reader where they share all kinds of art. 80% of it features naked chicks – usually in a position of power, btw – and do you know what they look like? Let’s just say nothing like Gweneth Paltrow. The more I look at these pictures, the more I feel beautiful, strong and downright hot.

    And to wrap up here, notice the “butt and boob” difference between Victoria’s Secret models (marketed to women) and Playboy (marketed to men). And here we all are trying to shave off our curves….

    (I can’t believe I haven’t visited your blog in forever, because I thought you kind of quit to go into politics – I just read every post from where I left off – hope you are all well & I’m glad you’re still writing!)