Dear Equinox…

Dear Adin and Judy:

I understand that you are the managers for the Equinox Gym in Bethesda.

Two weeks ago I was in Bethesda and saw the billboard posted prominently on the facade of your fitness spa.

I was struck with the following thought: what in the world is this trying to sell – A billiard parlor or an escort service?

While I am sure you are more than aware of a petition being circulated which stresses the concern that it is a sexist and degrading image, I have a more important question.

If you are trying to advertise the merits and benefits of your very high end fitness center/spa, then an image that reflects that would be a better idea. I would suggest that Equinox replace the current puzzeling billboard with something a bit more tasteful and more reflective of the business Equinox is in.

If you want to feature “hot bodies” then do so in a way that shows what business you are in – feature them in fitness wear that feature how toned and sexy the physique is. Your company clearly has the high end marketing budget that could do it in a way that I am sure would be artful and sexy without going into the territory of being skanky.

However, if what Equinox means to advertise that the facility has pool tables or that Equinox also offers escort services, then by all means, keep the sign.

[Name redacted]

Posted on July 3, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. A worthy cause, I agree; however, I am just wondering, are you going after every company that advertises on T.V. and billboards and sides of buses that use “beautiful and sexy” in their ads? It is pervasive and has been for years for the simple reason, sex sells. I hope you are successful in helping to change attitudes because our young girls, in particular, are bombarded with these types of ads which leads many to believe one must be skinnier than a bean pole to be beautiful. If you are just picking and choosing certain companies rather than making it an issue with all companies using this type of advertising, I fear you will just be viewed as another “kook” organization with a self-serving political agenda.

  2. I agree with the above idea and the concerns of community. We need to protect our children against all ills and to keep our social structure intact.

  3. I’m not sure why a woman on a pool table is so incredibly shocking. Is she half-naked? No. I’ve seen ads with images that objectify women far more than this one. As a an adamant feminist, and a 17 year-old girl, I have experienced my fair share of sexism, and I find it offensive that you suggest this image could have been used for an escort service. Of course I would classify the ad as “sexy,” but it is not at all suggestive. To become so irate over an ad that is “sexy,” and to claim that we must “protect our children” from it, essentially teaches children that sexual activity, and any images that are remotely sexual, are wrong. Humans are, by nature, sexual, and sex is a natural process; children need to understand this. If you are worried about what a silly billboard is teaching your child about sex, then maybe it’s time to have “the talk.”

    • Sydney – You make some great points. Firstly, we weren’t the ones who suggested the ad could be used for an escort service, but we don’t think it’s that far off the mark. Secondly, nobody’s particularly irate – just saddened, fed up, and ready for action. If we don’t speak out who will? Thirdly, we’re not against sex, sexiness, sexuality – any of it – you’re right it’s human nature and it’s to be celebrated. We’re against sexism – and any behaviors or stereotypes that degrade someone based on their sex. This ad, while by no means the worst the world has seen, had nothing to do with fitness, and everything to do with projecting the image of women as sexual playthings, catering to the tastes of a media construct of women as waif-thin, hypersexualized, models, who are apparently bad at pool. Thanks for your thoughts. We’re glad to hear you call yourself a feminist, and hope you continue to think critically and speak out. ~SM

      • I’m glad to hear an explanation, and I have a few questions. How exactly is the woman being degraded in this picture? I don’t see a man (or even another woman) patronizing her. In addition, how can you assume that women are bad at pool by looking at this picture? That assumption, in itself, is sexist. Also, I saw the headline of the Bethesda Gazette which read “Spicy Ad [Spreads] Ire” (I guess the author was misinformed because apparently no one is irate). And finally, I don’t “call” myself a feminist, I am one. My Iranian grandmother recently had her Iranian passport renewed, and she was not only required to cover her head, but she also had to contact her ex-husband to obtain his signature because the passport could not be renewed without it. In my mind, that is true degradation based on sex. So again, is that ad truly degrading to women?

  4. Sydney – Here are some answers for you. 1) The billboard does not need to include an image of another man or women patronizing the subject. The intent of the billboard is for the public to do that or rather be inspired negatively. I say ‘negatively’ because we don’t live in a society of just adults. Children are here too and even though this particular billboard does not show a naked women, it certainly implies her willingness to be objectified sexually because this will increase her self esteem. Children and young adults (who are still figuring out how people think) see this and fall into the mind set of conformity. 2) The billboard does imply that the female subject is obviously bad at playing pool (remember children are looking at this and they see a “silly lady”). 3) Trust me – Sydney: when or if you have children and you will need to explain to your kids why the grown ups act out overtly sexually in public, that is when you may become irate. This is a heavier situation than you realize. The next time you meet or see a prostitute, there will be more questions that will need answering about human trafficking. And while it is true that several women choose prostitution for a living, it leads to enormous problems, that are very difficult or impossible to rebound from. Yes, this billboard does give out the “Happy Hooker” image. 3) This billboard’s image is truly degrading everyone. There was time in our short history of American society and mostly other nations as well, that these sorts of images and behaviors where kept out of view in everyday normal culture for a good reason. People didn’t want obscenity to be a part of their daily lives. They wanted healthier surroundings and a better quality of life.

    • I believe you are making wild assumptions that are not necessarily corroborated by the image. She is a beautiful woman, but she is also a model, and does not, by any means represent the women of America. As far as children are concerned, I don’t think they even notice the billboard. When I read the Gazette article to my ten year-old sister, she laughed. More importantly, she definitely did not feel the need to conform to this image. Have your children complained to you? Is that why you are so upset? If you’re fighting for the children, say so, instead of creating the fa├žade of an advocate for women’s rights/equality.

      • @Sydney – Your opinion is appreciated. We, and many others, take exception to the image. It’s your prerogative not to. We just hope that this blog and the campaign spark thought and discussion. This image says to us that women are valued for their breasts and thinness, instead of their strength and abilities. The image says to men that it’s okay to stereotype women as objects, and bully other men into agreement. As for the model not representing the women of America (or the world for that matter) – that’s exactly the point. The problem is that when we plaster these images everywhere (not to mention hypersexualizing them) they are insidiously ingrained in our psyche and culture. Why do so many young girls have eating disorders? Why do so many young men find it acceptable to sexually harass or assault? These problems have a root, and while these images may go unnoticed, they are not benign.

        This site is not just for our children, or young women, or women at all specifically – this site and the campaigns it will run are against sexism in all forms. Some of us don’t have children yet, but are hoping the world is a little less discriminatory when they come along. Some of us have grown children who may know the difference between sex selling and selling sexist narratives, or maybe they don’t. Some are involved for themselves and their personal hopes and experiences. The point is to talk about sexism and solutions.

        Do you have experience with sexism in your life?

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