stuffed by consumerism: a big capitalist push driven by separatism
article | love all the people
Sports Illustrated is a magazine which pays millions for willing (and often slender) celebratory participants to strip down to their bare essentials and strike a seductive pose.
The swimwear magazine recently decided to promote a debatably overweight curve model on its front cover. Quite the move from a magazine that for years had a focus on white, slender, petit sporting professionals, zeitgeist models, and pop stars.
The ensuing uproar and online tribal insurrection fuelled by defensive outrage have no doubt improved magazine sales, as divided people draw deeper lines over an online issue humans share as a point of concern: weight.
The model in questionable form
The front cover is of model Yumi Nu, a ‘plus-size’ woman of American, Asian and Dutch descent. And this is causing quite the Twitter stir as several prominent figures have spoken out in opposition to what they call promoting a health crisis of ‘obesity’ in American society.
Predictably the snake pit of Twitter tribes has responded in kind on both sides of the argument. Prominent figure and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson has left Twitter after receiving a wave of hate for stating obesity should not be celebrated as beautiful. Cue the once respected but now extremist Guardian newspaper to lean in on the cowardly act of Peterson’s free speech—it got messy, quick.
A sidenote of honest emotion:
As a liberal person who celebrates individuality, identity and multiculturism actively in the real world—the Guardian are the end game when it comes to tribal liberalism gone insane—snowflake opinion editorials gone bonkers.
Enter the male gaze to clinch the divide between two identities
The male gaze of Peterson—a right-wing sympathizer from a continent ripped apart by culture wars deciding to denounce a larger than is usually seen model as not beautiful—not great. Peterson probably wasn’t the best voice to speak out in such a singular tone on such a sensitive topic, and to denounce beauty as a lead to the larger issue of health was shortsighted. But then again we all exist in shock culture (read the title of this article). But let us not forget fashion works best in extremes.
Eating disorders work both ways and are clinically analysed in both extremes by people who know what they are talking about: doctors, scientists, and researchers. Anorexia and obesity may be perceived differently by society in relation to beauty, but both kill people too soon and in this sense are equal. Both are a rising issue among the young and old and in the west are impacted by celebrity culture driven largely by American ideologies. I enjoy much about America and this is not an attack, just an observation. But America is a nation obsessed with image and driven by celebrity culture (in Trump’s case it led to the presidential hot seat).
Sidenote from a spirited mind:
According to NBC Yumi Nu is the first Asian-American model to grace this sexualized magazine's front cover—where is this positive among the hate-fuelled spats online? Is race not a talking point in America anymore? Is it no longer saleable in the form of tribal provocation and left versus right? Did the hate crimes stop making news so they no longer matter?
Sell, sell, sell, sell, sell
The Sports Illustrated cover page is of a curvaceous model with a celebratory status in contemporary society. Nothing new there and a welcome move away from the stick-thin, WASP types more commonly featured in magazines such as this. How dull to be fed one type of image and call it universally beautiful. Any fool knows beauty is subjective and aesthetics are just one ingredient of what makes up the wholesome beauty pie. It is the soul of a human that fuels the heart (hey tcakes xx).
Show the money
Yumi Nu will benefit financially. Why else would you shoot a cover for this type of magazine? Cue some high-profile appearances at fashion shows and woke endorsements from elitist corporate fashion outlets with male-dominated board members—and why not. Nu will no doubt get paid a hell of a lot of cheddar for her work and good. It’s a shit storm online and she is central to this narrative—pay this human their money. Also, Nu’s profile won’t be damaged by this, in fact, she’ll no doubt have her moment in the sun, talking directly to liberal media outlets and left chat show hosts about how a body should be viewed—and why not.
But let us not pretend outrage and financial gain don’t go hand in hand. And there is a cost. The issue of weight has been replaced by the idea of perceived beauty. Both issues matter but the topic here is weight, and if so then why not discuss this issue and leave the fence building out for a moment?
Profit through separation and insurrection of free speech and thought
Civil discourse no longer sells or drives consumerism on social platforms—that boat sailed years ago. Agenda free conversation is not nearly as easily consumed as outrage and tribal opinion. Separation has become profitable as has virtue signalling and with this comes a greater divide at a time of great opportunity to discuss such relevant topics with kindness and civility. Never before in humanity has it been so easy to talk to another person—we have umpteen online platforms and mobility.
Consumerism gone wild: man versus woman in the form of commodity
What next for this curvaceous model? Maybe SKIMS, a Kardashian fashion label that is oversize friendly will be in touch with Nu—if not already. And why not, sex sells well in the retail sphere. Why shouldn’t this working model cash in on yet another pandemic centred around yet another tribal outrage that only encourages silos of thought and lines to be drawn? Men versus women and gaze versus gaze seem to be some additional divides solidified in the fallout of discussion here—yet it all feels so typical.
As civil discussion gets crushed by blind opinion is something more important getting missed? Is an honest look at the issue of health, particularly in a nation where obesity is more prevalent in the poor than it is in the rich being ignored? Food for thought.
In its essence, the Sports Illustrated front cover in question can be seen as a celebration of diversity in people and a promotion of all body types—but what does the rest of the magazine look like? The decision to use Yumi Nu on the cover was as much driven by a growing consumer need centred around curvaceous humans than celebrating body types. Couple this reality with tribal woke types who will buy signifiers (clothes) at a good price just to look the same—the shock to sell method wins again.
In the news, they say, ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’ Well, in culture perhaps the saying should be, ‘if it divides, it rides.’
What to take away from it all
How do we discuss a growing crisis centred around beauty influenced health decisions and manage to not offend everyone in the process? And the mudslinging that comes from these discussions online surely only divides us because thought silos do not work. There is a fine line between opinion and shaming online.