Friday, February 22, 2013

Media Moment: Sexy associated with "sore"?

I stumbled across this image on my cousin's Instagram this week, and was pretty taken aback for a number of reasons.  My first reaction was shock that anyone could think this was okay - to encourage women to literally cause themselves physical pain in the form of workouts, to achieve the societal standard of what's considered "sexy." We can't see the woman's face in the image, but that is perhaps, part of the point of the ad.  Our bodies are what's sexy, and according to the ad and text, only thin, flawlessly smooth, but sore bodies are sexy. The fact that my cousin, who's 20 years old, was posting it, with a comment that read something along the lines of "Hitting the gym #beautyispain," was also rather jarring to me.  Here is a well-adjusted, intelligent, and independent young woman, who is still affected by ads like this, and made to feel that she's not enough unless she's worked her body to fit the ideals set by society.

Upon studying the image a little further, a thought came to me that might be pushing the limit of what the ad is trying to say.  But I considered the idea that because the woman is naked apart from her underwear,we can infer that she's just slept with someone. And to say that "sore" is sexy, led me to think of physical abuse in a relationship.  Do you think that this idea might be too far-fetched?  Or do you think it could be fair to make that jump considering the text in the image?


  1. The idea of this woman being part of a physically abusive relationship is a fair reading of this. As I first looked at the picture I made the connection that being SORE came from sexual abuse. Is it a call for rougher sex (to enjoy mutually) or a degradation to women actually being harmed by their partner?

    But overall, after reading your post and some analyzing from myself, I don't think that is the ultimate message behind this and it is a type of motivation for girls to workout. Trying to sell that grand 'ole message of being thin and happy.

  2. I think linking "sore" and physical abuse makes sense, however for me it evokes more of an image of sexual abuse. If a woman is raped, or even just has very rough sex, it would make her sore. To me, the immediate association between a woman in solely her underwear and that word in large typeface immediately conjures this association.

    I agree that working out has little to do with this ad, as the woman in the photo doesn't really have a body type that implies "fitness" but more "thinness". I also think that all the elements of the setting imply sex and not fitness--do you ever work out on your bed in your underwear only with your hair cascading down your back? Probably not.

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  4. When I usually think of being sore I think of exercise so that was my first thought at this photograph.I feel like there is a growing pressure for women to head out to the gym and work out until they are skinny enough. I find this very sad and feel like people should be going to the gym so they can be fit in feel healthy. When people go to the gym for the wrong reasons they could potentially hurt themselves.

    This picture is also clearly representing being sore from having sex. i never thought about the abuse aspect of this until I saw these comments. I understand where you are all coming from, but when I think of abuse I think of bruises. I do not think that this picture is talking about sexual abuse, but it seems to be talking about sex in general. This photograph encourages sex.