Forbidden Regions

Of all the ads cashing in on the MUST-LOSE-WEIGHT New Year Resolutions, this one from Contours, an Australian franchise of gyms targeting women (as if you couldn’t tell by the name) cheeses me off the most.

Oh sure, the women in it are ‘normal’ (read: they aren’t Hollywood thin or gym junkies). They are happy. They are having fun in an energetic way. So why to I hate this commercial so much?

Simply because, with its cheerful chant about “arms, bellies, bums and thighs”, it blithely forbids women to be happy with any of the listed parts. After all, they are our Trouble Zones, aren’t they ladies? It simply isn’t socially acceptable to be happy with one’s Forbidden Regions.

  • If you think you are happy with your arms, think again. Haven’t you heard of bingo wings?
  • If you think your belly is just right, think again. Got a bit of a muffin top, there, haven’t you love?
  • If you think your bum is perky, think again. God, look at that cottage cheese.
  • And don’t even mention your thighs. They are like hams.

So get thee to a nunnery Contours and do thy (happy! energetic!) penance in only 29 minutes!

(As an aside, have you ever noticed how much of the terminology used to shame women about their body parts is food related? Food is shameful. Bodies are shameful. Bodies that consume food are anathema. AAAARGH!)

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10 Responses to “Forbidden Regions”


  1. 1 April D Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Yeah, I hate that “Trouble zone” mantra. To me, “trouble zone” should be like the area of your house where the ghost lives and likes to toss water balloons at you as you go by. Or perhaps the end of my balled up fist is a good “trouble zone”; ie don’t stand your body-hatred spewing face in front of this here fist of trouble! ;)

    I say we should embrace these “forbidden” trouble zones of arms and bellies, bums and thighs and give them the love they deserve for getting us through the day :D

  2. 2 nerdalesca Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 11:11 pm

    I have a long neglected Contours membership. On one hand, they’re the only gym around here that employs pleasant, friendly staff who genuinely care about their clients.

    On the other hand, they show that caring by pressuring people to lose weight. Isn’t that why fatties go to the gym?

    I kind of started to neglect my membership when they weighed me, found I had put on weight, and told me to keep a food diary; something that is incredibly triggering to me. I should cancel my membership, but I still carry a bit of fatty shame, and am afraid that if I go in there, I’ll buy into the “You can do it, we can help!” schtick again.

    Plus, I kind of like working out. Blegh.

  3. 3 Fatadelic Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 11:28 pm

    April: Ghosts with water balloons. Love it!

    Nerdalesca: It’s a shame they can’t divorce the exercise/activity thing from weightloss, otherwise they might be an ok place to work out. Grr about the food diary thing. Can’t you opt out of the weigh-ins?

  4. 4 angrygrayrainbows Friday, 16 January 2009 at 12:08 am

    I’ve always wondered if people thought of their forbidden zones in terms of food, because they felt so restricted… food is all that they can think about. I noticed in magazines that are very body unpositive (and diet obsessed) there are often ads or articles about makeup with candy names (ie: toffee eye shadow) all over the place, sugar body scrubs or cocoa bath salts.

    When I was a diet nut, I remember finding these kinds of products hugely alluring, cuz I just wanted food so bad in any form…even if I wasn’t going to really eat it, I could feel somewhat treated for using a sugar scrub (which by the way is not made of sugar… lol).

  5. 5 Sal Friday, 16 January 2009 at 3:23 am

    Many years ago, I recall one women’s magazine declaring that “saddlebags” was the most common figure flaw.

    Even then, I remember thinking, “If it’s the most common, maybe it’s because that’s what normal women look like!”

  6. 6 julie Friday, 16 January 2009 at 6:10 am

    I saw a play a few years ago in which all the classic parts to hate on one’s body were “fixed”, now they were going on about ugly, rough, bumpy elbows, and how can a woman who has those show herself in public? It was absurd, but really made its point.

    My gym (24 hour fitness) is sleazy, annoying, and everything else, but they are close to my house, and I will go there. I don’t do the personal training or anything else that would force me to deal with the staff-just the step, kickboxing, yoga, body sculpt, and zumba. Because I’m usually the largest in the class, I feel free to work at my own pace, and not feel guilty if I can’t do 40 pushups. They’ve got to realize that exercises that use body weight are harder, as I am big.

  7. 7 nerdalesca Monday, 19 January 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Fatadelic: I work below the Contours studio, and one of the employees came in the oter day, recognised me, and we had a chat about it. So hopefully I can work out and not get hassled about not trying to lose weight. Hopefully, anyway. If anything, because working below them adds another tick in the “better option than the other local gyms” column.

    Julie: I hate getting dry elbow skin, but I’d hardly not go out in public because of it :P

  8. 8 sm2009 Wednesday, 11 March 2009 at 1:37 am

    People are suppose to go to the gym and get healthy, it’s annoying when they’re constantly trying to imply that since you’re not lsing weight you’re not doing well enough. I tried gym Riviera, and I didn’t want to come back because it’s just the way they look at you like, um you should be working harder. I work out in th eprvacy of my home at my own pace. Cardio, sit-ups,arm targeting excerses all the normal and natural things and I have stamia all day. There’s a weird obsession now-a-days with weight and thiness and it ain’t cute. Especially the media specifically targeting women, with the gym commericals they’ll throw in a few men to not make it obvious.

  9. 9 Proud FA Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 2:35 pm

    We have an interesting way of looking at this issue.

  10. 10 bridgetloves Friday, 3 July 2009 at 9:27 am

    I love that it is called Contours there, here it is Curves and I hate it! But in any case, great writing. I am The Un Diet Coach, I help people quit dieting for life and start loving their bodies and find their “Skinny”. Meaning they enjoy food and their body. Pretty cool concept! So pass it on;)

    Bridget Loves
    http://www.theundietcoach.com


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