When you think of any magazine’s “body” issue, a variety of things likely come to mind.
Perhaps it’s Kate Upton’s 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover, with her teeny-tiny brown and red string bikini bottom, which appeared to be two pieces of double-sided tape away from exposing her unmentionables.
Or the (formerly) reliable Victoria’s Secret catalog that showed up in your mailbox 22 times per year; every issue a lesson in the ‘perfection’ and mascot-sexiness of female anatomy.
Or maybe it’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s supposedly-body-of-God GQ Body Issue cover, a showcase of six pack standards and soccer figure ideal.
Whatever first comes to mind for you is likely similar to the examples above, and one of many body-perfect media examples—over the course of your lifetime—engrained in your psyche. Countless magazine spreads, issues and programming represent relatively homogenous body types while most advertising has empowered small-framed slim females with gorgeous hair and tall muscle-set men with untouchable confidence to remain the exemplary human form.
(Make sure to click the link above to experience the Mag)
Take a look at the images presented in this Body Issue against those in most other media platforms. What you may find is that these images—these bodies—are diverse and a testament to the fact that healthy and athletic does not always mean skinny / six-pack. The pictures not only represent a larger group of people but they also show those reading that the bodies of success and perfection are all different and all…equally amazing.
What’s equally incredible is the fact that almost every Athlete appearing in this year’s issue voices their own insecurities and apprehensions, a true feat of strength and step toward much-desired relatability that is so often neglected throughout media and advertising.
Who could have guessed that Dwayne Wade, former Miami Heat star, was self-conscious about certain parts of his body? Enough so that he refused to walk around without a shirt, even in his own house and around his wife, until about four years ago. He’s real.
And who would have ever known that Claressa Shields, 165 pound Olympic-bound boxer, would have time to even worry about whether her nose was “pretty big” or not? “For a long time, I thought my nose was pretty big,” Shields told ESPN. “But now I think I’m very beautiful, even though my lips are big too, but whatever, I don’t care.” Wow. She’s real.
It’s a movement toward vulnerability, a celebration of differences and look at the real human experience that makes ESPN the game-changer here. They’re shifting body norms and causing a stir in the typical ‘model’ body pot we have all grown so accustomed to seeing. Perhaps that’s why the popularity of this Issue continues to grow so far past the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, or why Victoria’s Secret is on the verge of some major brand and image changes. Consumer behavior shows a strong shift in the need for realness and anti-photoshop, #nomakeup movements are on the rise. With no signs of stopping.
Wherever you stand on this issue, it’s worth a little thought. Whether it’s for you personally or you and your business. Advertising and media will change in the coming years to showcase the real, the authentic and the TRUE human experience (we’re already seeing a strong call for Authenticity) and it’s a smart idea to get ahead of the game. Take a cue from ESPN and go bold, be unafraid to go against the norm in your ad imagery and toss out the dated standards of perfection. Because it’s all about perfect imperfection now.