Today in "Things I Never Thought I Would Ever Write:" Nike has a new campaign that really speaks to me deeply. As a fat babe, I'm not really used to being able to identify with fitness campaigns — or to even be able to find any activewear in plus-sizes; but Nike Women's "Better For It" campaign is surprisingly relatable. A video titled "Inner Thoughts" kicks off the campaign for the brand featuring several women's "inner dialogues" while performing different types of exercise, and some print ads featuring sayings like "I Better Get An Ab Out Of This."
Aside from the humor, there's also the honest: "You Have To Get Good Before You Are Good." Yes please! Let's focus on the journey, the hard work that is exercising and getting stronger, and the reality that you're not just gonna start running marathons because you've got your athletic gear and some willpower.
I'm fairly certain that the types of thoughts being expressed in the video are ones that most people who have ever donned spandex and moved their bodies can relate to. Things like, "Okay yoga, change my life," and, "No shame in running half of a half marathon," are pure gold and almost creepily similar to my own inner dialogue while in a yoga class or when doing a circuit workout. The only way these thoughts could be even more accurate is if the video said, "I'm so mad that lifting a one-pound burrito to my mouth 'doesn't count' as a workout."
That being said, the video had a few cringe-worthy lines as well as the ones that made me laugh out loud: "Oh great, a bunch of models right in front of me," followed by a shot of their butts on spin cycle seats and the line, "This is weirdly motivating." It's not poor writing or messaging per se, but it's just a little too real.
I mean, raise your hand if you've worked out for how it makes you look instead of how it makes you feel or for the health benefits. Raise your hand if you've also used another woman's body to compare yourself to, or as inspiration. Right. Basically everyone. Do I know this is pretty unhealthy and not particularly body positive behavior? Yes. And it's frustrating that the video seems to normalize it instead of being all, "Yo, let's change this." Nike has yet to respond to Bustle's request for comment on the matter.
While the overall messaging is positive — it doesn't use shame-y language to make you feel bad for feeling like quitting or not being super into your workout — it's not exactly perfect. The video still features thin, conventionally attractive women who all appear to be able-bodied. The tagline "Better For It" makes me feel a little weird, too. I hate the idea that working out makes you better than someone else somehow. There are just so many reasons why people can't or don't work out, whether it's because of physical ability, financial constraints, time constraints, or the fact that they simply don't want to (which should be okay!). But the messaging on their Instagram is so much more encouraging and positive! I'll take, "Set out to race yourself," and, "If you only have mornings, make it mornings," as my mantras and fitspo any day.
I understand that Nike is still a fitness company, ultimately making a profit off of people's intentions to work out, but pitting two groups of women against each other feels uncomfortable and unnecessary. The fact that this campaign is just directed at women definitely reinforces that messaging, and unintentionally suggests that women are weak and insecure creatures who have these types of thoughts.
A quick click over to the men's videos seems to just have your standard motivational, warrior-like messaging. I know dudes and non-binary folks have these thoughts, too, so it would be cool to see this campaign give them something to relate to and laugh about at as well. Basically, fitness companies just need to embrace a little more inclusivity, all in all.
Images: Courtesy Nike; YouTube/Nike Women; Instagram/nikewomen