Monday, December 14, 2009
High Fashion Or Mixed Messages - If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, Then What Does This Photo Say?
While surfing the web looking for photos to post on my blog, I typed in “images of holiday workouts”. I expected to get images of people working out in the gym, or working out on vacation. I did see those, but one of the first images to pop up was the following. I cocked my head to the side and thought… “Hmmm… really??? Maybe this is just an editorial pic to sell couture workout attire ala the gold lame outfit and black heels.” So, I let my curiosity get the better of me and clicked on the link only to find that this photo was from HarpersBazaar.com to encourage working out during the holidays. Okay, kudos to HB for encouraging holiday fitness, that’s the right message. But did HB have to use this photo? Wrong message! Yes, I know some of you are thinking “but it’s Harper’s Bazaar, they’re a high fashion magazine and focus on everything couture” Yes, I know. I love high fashion as much as the next Fashionista, I even have the shoes shown in the photo, but I am also very realistic when it comes to body images and what we sell to the public. This photo in my view sends a pretty conflicting message when selling fitness. Now granted, because of Harpers Bazaar’s image and marketing strategies they would never opt to use a Fitness Model for a photo like this, but better options other than the use of a rail thin model sans muscle tone could have been considered. Within this same Harpers Bazaar holiday reel, previous photos encouraging stress relief and lower sodium intake contained photos of a bubble bath with candles and a photo of a salt shaker. In the same vein, HB could have also used a stylized photo of hand weights with a water bottle and towel to convey the same message about fitness. For those who may consider this to be a harmless photo, the reality is this. Many women and young girls see these photos and aspire to be that model. As a result, many of these same women and girls will also do harmful things to their bodies and psyche to get there. When placing images into the public’s eye, we should be mindful and responsible for what we deliver. As we know, the fashion world has been routinely criticized for the negative body images they promote by using extremely thin models for editorial shoots and fashion show runways. Dressing the same type of model in athletic fashions and placing her in a workout setting next to a caption promoting fitness workouts doesn’t do much for changing the mindset or the practice. What this now does is shift the paradigm to say that not only is this the standard of beauty, but it is also the standard of physical fitness and health.