Thoughts After Victoria’s Secret 2014 Fashion Show

It’s a yearly tradition.  On a Tuesday night every December, I find myself sitting on a couch watching women walk around weightless wings and lingerie.  It’s for science, I swear!

In 2010, I complained about we perceive the model’s physical strength.  In 2011, I asked the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show to #PleaseFeedTheModels.  In 2012, I asked model Erin Heatherton to marry me.  Apparently in 2013, I took the year off.

As the VS Fashion Show played on Tuesday night, I spent more time watching my twitter feed than the actual show.  The show played out, and I couldn’t help but think, “Give them a damn break!”

This follows my recent progression of thoughts and writing in the fitness industry, but it surprises me that I’ve almost ‘switched’ sides.  See, in little training community, everyone is passionate about strength-centric training.  As a result, we love to lambast the models and their trainers.  I’ve done it before, and certain issues will probably come up again.

The problem arises when we in the strength & conditioning community think that everybody cares about stronger.  It’s in our exercise science courses as important.  It’s in our training programs as a priority.  Hell, we like to get stronger ourselves.

We have to appreciate that strength isn’t the number one priority.

Even with all of the education you can possibly provide as a trainer, people may not care about strength.  Maybe they accept it as a tool in their training arsenal, but for the majority of the world, the priority is aesthetics.

Let’s pretend this picture is a case study:

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I imagine that some of us are thinking, “Wow, she’s way too skinny.”  Other’s may be thinking, “Damn, I want a body like that.”  My prediction is that there are more fitness professionals in the judging group.  Assuming I’m accurate:

Do we really think that bitching out bodies is helping the rest of the world?

Pause and let that sink in.  Does complaining about the million dollar model’s abs give anyone else a better strategy to get abs?  Not really.

Good training principles spread faster than the bad ones, and thanks to social media those good ideas can be seen by the masses.  For example, check out this stability ball pike done by model Izabel Goulart:

We see a similar movement, with the addition of a push-up, from the TRX Training Instagram account

Take a quick look around most commercial gyms and those are probably two of the better core stability exercises out there, and she’s doing them with pretty damn good technique.

When we consider the vast reach that social media has, it’s easy to understand why over a million people take advice from people who are not fitness experts.  Let’s take Jen Setler and her butt as an example.  She’s not a fitness expert, but she has a bigger reach than almost all of them.  Let that fact drive home the significance, or really complete waste of time, that comes from us complaining about models on the interwebz.

Let’s accept, or at least acknowledge, that some people want to look like the Victoria’s Secret Angels, and that many people find them to be sexy.  That often becomes a barrier to our field; we’re stuck talking about how their weak.  Move on.

Consider that they’ve often achieved their physical goals because of good genetics and some hard work.  It’s not what you may be interested in, but it’s what other people are interested in, and that’s where we must be more responsible.

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If someone has a platform to share information, it’s their responsibility to share the best information possible.  The corollary is that if you have the best information possible, it’s your responsibility to share it on the largest platform possible.

In most cases, this means we actively have to seek better information, and build a bigger platform.  We should strive for both, and that’s where we miss out on making a difference.

Next time you hear someone raving about the runway rumps or how ravenous the models may or may not be, don’t make fun of the training.  Don’t talk about how the models aren’t real women.  (I’m looking at you, Twitter.)

Instead, support their success by focusing on the good things that are being done.  Pull up a great training video or an example of sustainable nutrition.  Talk about how empowering it is to work towards your goals, not the physical element.  We can all work towards the body that we want, but it doesn’t have to be done by ridiculing others.

It’s the mental element that improves wellbeing.  It’s about being human first, and talking about fitness second.  Training should help you feel more confident, and if it doesn’t, it’s probably not the most appropriate approach for you.  This often overlooked issue isn’t discussed enough, but once you find it, it’s huge.

Unlike 2011, I’m not going to ask Victoria’s Secret to #PleaseFeedTheModels.  Now, I’m going to ask you to please support them.

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