BODY SHAMING THE BLENDER BABES
Here’s the skinny on how (and why) body shaming made me change an integral part of my business model.
I sometimes get questions about why we used to wear bikinis (circa 2013) in our videos – and I wanted to address it here.
Many years ago when I was developing the Blender Babes concept and preparing to go live, my team and I decided that an important part of our brand would be recipe videos.
We wanted these videos to be fun and entertaining because back then (six years ago seems like forever in internet land), recipe videos were looooong, and frankly very boring.
Unless they were celebrities on the Food Network, there just wasn’t much out there on the web like there is now. These days recipe videos are slickly produced and interesting to watch.
For instance, I’m sure you’ve seen the super short Buzzfeed/Tasty style videos (where a pair of hands and ingredients are featured instead of an actual person) on your Facebook timelines fairly regularly.
As my team and I moved forward with developing the Blender Babes videos we were hoping to create something fresh, different and interesting that would also be fun and informative.
I believe we succeeded. But more on that shortly. First, let me backtrack a little bit and share what served as my inspiration…
THE MODEL BECOMES AN ENTREPRENEUR
During my 20s I tried my hand at modeling in Los Angeles. I can tell you that sadly a lot of what you hear about the modeling industry is VERY true.
I saw first-hand how horrific the industry was for young women.
Models hardly ate, smoked all day, and looked like walking hangers. And there were thousands of them – all gorgeous – vying for the same jobs.
Also, body shaming was (and still is) huge. Models are often told they’re too fat…too short…too this…too that.
Like many young women in the modeling industry I, too, struggled with an eating disorder and low self-esteem.
But I was fortunate to get out before my self-worth was totally destroyed.
I thought a lot about my experience as a model while working on Blender Babes’ concept and videos.
I wanted Blender Babes to showcase the opposite of how women were depicted online, in ads, in magazines and on television.
So I decided that I would feature “Babes” who were healthy (not skinny) and happy.
While models in the industry are body shamed for not being “perfect,” I was determined that the Blender Babes would portray realistic representations of women’s bodies.
Having witnessed first-hand what models were doing in order to cope with the body shaming of casting agents, photographers, and agents; I set out to feature women in our videos who represented all nationalities, had REAL bodies, curves and were healthy as opposed to “model thin.”
I also decided these women — including myself — would wear bikinis.
Now, I’m a California girl. I have always LOVED the beach and cute bathing suits!
So it is not unusual for me and the women in my circle to wear beach wear as a part of our daily clothing choices.
In other parts of the country (and the world) that may seem weird. But in California it’s simply not. Cue Katy Perry’s song, “California Gurls.”
Anyway, Blender Babes’ YouTube channel went live with approximately 40 instructional videos of us wearing bikinis and using Blendtec and Vitamix blenders.
As I’m sure you can guess, we got a lot of attention.
Most of it was positive, but inevitably the negative comments and emails started coming in.
People were writing and asking why were we “naked”? The other popular question was – “Why were we using sex to sell?”
Some also wrote to tell me that they felt my channel was NSFW (not safe for work) or they couldn’t watch with their kids around.
The negative response hit me pretty hard when I realized what was happening….We were being body shamed for having the confidence to wear bikinis.
Under the guise of being told it was “inappropriate” it appeared most people had an issue with us daring to be comfortable enough in our bodies to wear what we wanted.
Again, the reaction totally threw me for a loop. I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal.
As mentioned, as a California girl I practically live in my bathing suit. I honestly don’t feel any different in swim wear than I do in a sports bra.
So I didn’t understand why some people were reacting so negatively to the videos.
The decision that my team and I would wear bikinis in the videos was never meant to be a sexual statement.
Quite honestly, I was baffled that some people couldn’t see that.
Despite my intentions, the negative feedback continued to come. The more I read the comments and emails, the more I started thinking about perception versus reality and how I wanted my brand to be viewed.
Since improving people’s health has always been my #1 goal, six months after the launch I decided that instead of bathing suits that the Blender Babes would switch to active wear instead and we never looked back.
Some might think I caved in to the pressure of the body shaming. Sure, there is probably some truth to that.
But I felt I had a decision to make. The negative feedback we received on our attire was overshadowing my primary objective of helping others live and eat healthier.
I’d rather not think that I caved though. I made a decision. I wanted the viewers to hone in on the content of the videos instead of what we were wearing.
It has now been 7 ½ years since the active wear transition.
I still (occasionally) receive a negative YouTube comment about the bikinis or receive an email.
I often consider whether I should take the original videos down or, in the least, remake them.
A part me feels that shouldn’t be necessary though no matter how much body shaming comes my way.
My priority for Blender Babes is to promote health and wellness.
In fact, my personal definition of a healthy lifestyle is as follows: Think positive, eat healthy, and exercise. Simple.
I also believe body image (as well as the ability to be comfortable with looking at other bodies regardless of size) has everything to do with being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle.
Perhaps my thinking is unrealistic given the society we live in?
But when viewers watch the Blender Babes team members in these old videos, I desperately want them to see women who take healthy eating and living seriously – NOT sex objects.
Because that’s what I SEE and it’s what I have been trying to convey from the beginning.
I’m sad body shaming is the reaction we’ve been exposed to for feeling comfortable with our bodies.
As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder and a negative body image, it’s a significant milestone for me to be comfortable with my body.
A part of me doesn’t want to delete these old videos because they are representative of my personal growth. No matter what people say, having evidence of how far I’ve come with my body image is very important.
Selling sex isn’t what Blender Babes is about. A healthy body AND mind is what my team and I strive to promote.
I hope that regardless of how you feel about the choice to wear bikinis or active wear, that you find the information you receive from Blender Babes beneficial to help you live a healthier lifestyle.
That is why I launched the site and have continued with it six years later.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this post. I welcome your thoughts and constructive feedback in the comments! 🙂