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Equinox’s Skinny Fat Ad is Causing Controversy

If the goal of advertising is to get attention, then Equinox Gym has got the perfect formula. The gym’s most recent advertisement has got many people talking, but not necessarily singing praises.

The new ad features a very thin nude model whose mid-section is hidden by a red circle with the question, “Are You Skinny Fat?” The phrase “skinny fat” refers to the concept of normal weight obesity. The researchers at the Mayo Clinic describe someone as “skinny fat”  if they may look fit on the outside yet they actually have a high ratio of body fat in comparison to their weight. In other terms, “skinny fat” is simply when someone looks thin, but has excess fat and little muscle mass underneath the surface.

So, yes, this is a real condition with rather serious health risks. ABC reported that the high ration of fat to lean muscle can actually interfere with the liver’s metabolism and these individuals are at a higher risk for diabetes and hypertension. However, most agree, this health condition isn’t really an issue to deal with in the gym, rather it’s a serious condition to first deal with in the doctor’s office.

Ultimately the simple ad leaves many left with questions, and as most critics agree, it simply will fuel thin women to fear that they aren’t thin enough. There’s not enough context in the advertisement to be a service announcement, it’s simply another ploy to get members in the door.

Our country has a very large population of women with eating disorders. 31 percent of all female college students are reported to have eating disorders, this doesn’t even account for all the other groups of women who struggle with disorders and body image issues as well. Ads like this current Equinox ad are not the root cause, but they definitely do not help reverse the problem. If anything, they reinforce it.

If Equinox is seriously concerned about the issue of “skinny fat,” they missed the mark when informing the public. An ad with a skinny model does not get the job done. If the purpose was to get noticed, they nailed it.

March 13th, 2012

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