“Sweat. Every. Day.” (It’ll make you attractive.)

Under Amour’s New Commercial:

This commercial is fascinating because in its attempt to send a message that defies a gender expectation, it imposes new expectations.  I once heard the expression “women do not sweat, they glisten.”  This commercial pretends to shatter this expectation, showing that women do work for their bodies, the work is hard, and they sweat while doing it.  Yet upon closer inspection, this statement is heavily qualified in how it ties strength to beauty.  First, every woman they show conforms closely to modern definitions of an ideal woman.  They are also wearing revealing clothing.  Their exercises seem overtly sexualized, with suggestive yoga poses and abdominal exercises.  There are  no men in the commercial, which seems to suggest that the woman’s world of exercise is exclusive, or somehow hidden from men (and should be).  These features combine to form a new, subliminal message: that strength is good because it leads to sexual appeal.  Even the basic idea of the commercial, that women sweat, is portrayed in a fictionalized, sexualized manner.  None of the women have pit stains, or beads of sweat running off of their faces, or frizzy, sweaty hair.  This portrayal contrasts heavily with the common portrayal of men’s sweat.  For example in this Gatorade commercial, the sweat is actually overstated on a man (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agVqBJNa8UM) .  The Semenya controversy seems to have derived from the same qualifications and limits on female strength and work.  Semenya’s athleticism, and visible musculature flagged her as non-feminine because she exceeded conventional limits on what a strong woman looks like and can do.  This duplicitous tactic is common in advertising and seems to corrupt the more genuine efforts people make to attack unfair gender expectations.

uploaded by JayMJ23. “Michael Jordan ‘Challenge’ Gatorade Commercial” Youtube.com. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agVqBJNa8UM&gt; March 4, 2008.

uploaded by underarmour. “No Matter What. Sweat. Every. Day. –Under Armour Women.” Youtube.com <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yUkong5zZg&gt; September 4, 2012.

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