What’s up with Peloton’s Controversial Ad?

Peloton is standing by a holiday ad that has caused controversy and criticism that it promotes unhealthy views of women’s body images and marriage.

Social media comments seemed to delight in attacking Peloton by parodying the ad. One Twitter user even suggested running for president “on the single issue platform to jail everyone involved in the pitching, scripting, acting, shooting, and approval of the Peloton ad.” 

Peloton is a maker of high-end fitness equipment which features monthly fees for access to workouts with interactivity with instructors and a fitness community. The bikes cost over $2200, and the monthly access is $39.

Many social media users have blasted the ad, reading it as a thin woman’s spouse encouraging her to lose weight. 

“The newest commercial about the vlogging 116 lb woman’s yearlong fitness journey to becoming a 112 lb woman who says ‘I didn’t realize how much this would change me’ is just ri-god-damn-diculous. Come on,” one person tweeted. 

“Absolutely 100% chance that the husband in the Peloton ad is abusive,” another tweeted.

In its defense, Peloton shared positive remarks:

  • “When I see that ad, I see a woman who is lovingly gifted a Peloton bike because it is something just for her,” Heather Haworth wrote on Facebook. “I see a professional woman with little time for herself who becomes surprised that she can find a small amount of time for herself to work out…I did not ever see an already slender woman who wanted to lose weight.”
  • “My wife and I love your ad and if we could afford one would absolutely buy one ourselves. My wife is in great shape, but just like many other women, wants to lose a few extra pounds just to feel her best about herself…I would absolutely buy one for her for Christmas and she would know I’m not saying anything negative or sexist by it…it’s what she wants.”
  • Another woman received a Peloton from a daughter after a breast cancer diagnosis. “The [P]eloton was her saving grace this year through chemo, a mastectomy and recently radiation,” she wrote in an email shared by Peloton. 

I wonder, isn’t criticism of slender women shown enjoying fitness routines a form of (reverse) body shaming?

Sources here and here.