Sneaker companies and their pathetic defenses
In response to my post below, a reader sent me an email exchange she had with Skechers, who not only has a "Shape Up" line of get-your-back-out-alignment-for-mythical-toning-benefits shoes, but also has a line for girls, so they can get an early start on fucking up their backs and knees in the name of achieving a literally impossible physical ideal. The reader specifically pointed out that there's no "Shape Ups" for boys, and this is the reply she got:
The whole message behind Shape-ups is to get people moving, exercising, and getting fit. Skechers' advertising for Shape-ups for Girls contains the same message as the First Lady's Let's Move initiative, which is aimed specifically at children. American children are more sedentary now than at any time in our history. Shape-ups are intended to get people moving and being fit. We think that is a good thing for adults and kids — and hope others understand the intent.
The reason we do not have a Shape-Ups line at this time for boys is simply a matter of how our company's research and development works for Shape-ups. The Shape-ups line was first created for women and, once it became clear they were popular and there was a demand, the line for men was developed and marketed. The same is true for the kids' lines. Shape-Ups for Girls were rolled out first. The success of this line and the need in the market will guide us in deciding if we will create a line for boys. Other lines may start with Men's.
Regardless of what you may think of Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, I think it's safe to say that the First Lady is not endorsing snake oil products that promise physical effects they can't deliver. On the contrary, a quick perusal of the website will show that it sticks to scientifically sound ideas about nutrition and exercise, with an emphasis on safety. In fact, the reason that children became the focus of the campaign is that there's overwhelming scientific evidence that people who are already-fat don't get thin, so the idea behind the campaign was to prevent the weight gain in the first place. Again, I'm not saying that you have to agree with that goal—though I do think it's going to be a side effect of improved nutrition and exercise in children—but it's just a fact that this is the goal. This has nothing to do with snake oil sneakers promising to give you a supermodel's butt just by running your errands.
It's worth noting that Obama has received a lot of attention—and a lot of it has been nasty as hell—for not fitting the fashion model version of beauty, but instead being a strong, fit woman who has visible muscles.
I will add that presenting little girls with unachievable ideals of beauty is contrary to real-world fitness goals. It encourages eating disorders in some, but also causes others to despair. A person who is in despair because they'll never be perfect isn't someone who is motivated to go to the gym to be well.