I suppose it’s possible that I put my cranky pants on today, and I may get flaming arrows from every side on this, but this image, posted by a Facebook friend earlier today, got me sort of worked up. This is SO MUCH not my idea of positive messaging from a supposed “health” company. Getting the body check and disturbingly rapid-fire pitch from a *Derbalife rep at regionals was a red flag, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am.

*Derbalife = Herbalife distributors/representatives who work within the roller derby community, as far as I can tell. I have no position on the product or program itself; I haven’t tried it, and currently have no interest in trying it. This isn’t about the quality of any product itself, it’s about the message.

I’m going to fast-forward through the arguments here: that the U.S. has an obesity problem, that it has a lifestyle-related health problem, that it has a food problem, and that it has a near obsession with diets. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But the bottom-line is health. We want people to be healthy and active and live long lives. If you don’t believe that — if you believe it’s about thinness and appearance — then stop reading now, this isn’t the blog for you. I don’t even want to engage in that debate.

This one picture represents a huge problem I’ve had with a diet and so-called “health” industry — this company included — that shames women into buying their product (I’m looking at you, Women’s Health magazine). Images like these are not helpful. Shows like the Biggest Loser show wasting truckloads of food to tempt contestants or to demonstrate some point are not being helpful. The cringe-worthy home movies of participants are not helpful. SHAME IS NOT PRODUCTIVE, PEOPLE. That whole eat in front of the mirror trick? Doesn’t work. Shame isn’t empowering. But they know that. It keeps them in business. Shame = $$$.

Gah. I have no idea how healthy either of these women is. Not for me to judge. Also, INSUFFICIENT INFORMATION. I’m also not so naive as to assume that either photo is unretouched. But I do know that if this is what D/Herbalife stands for, then I want nothing to do with them.

I’m not a ranter, and I may regret this later on, but right now I’m horrified and I just couldn’t fit my horror into 140 characters.

  1. hi there!
    i am the girl who had the picture and i am the girl you met at regionals. I would like to clarify. this photo was posted on my page by a skater named anna wong who lost 112lbs though a combination of the herbalife nutrition program and my support as her derbalife coach. She in the process kicked her mcdonalds habit and as a result of that and her new good eating habits got off al her diabetes medication.
    I apologize if this phot offended you in anyway but it was a celebration between her and I of her accomplishment.
    I also apologize if for some reason you felt sized up at regionals. we are here to support skaters in reaching their goals that THEY set. we say “what do you want? ok here is how to make that happen.”

    Are derbalife coaches herbalife distributors?

    Do we also provide nutrition education and support and love and high fives to these girls we work with?
    You betcha!

    Why do we promote herbalife?
    Every coach on our team has had their lives changed in some way by these products and we know that 30 years of science and research back the programs we use and work with skaters on.

    Why do we keep our website so brief?
    Because all programs are customized to each skaters goals and lifestyle.

    If you have any questions or anything, I am totally open for a discussion on how to make sure others DO NOT get the same impression you seem to have gotten about us.

    Krissy Krash

    • Stephanie
    • January 21st, 2012

    Hi Krissy, thanks for your comment. I appreciate your constructive and professional approach, and I’m glad to respond in kind. Just to get a couple things out of the way, though: 1) You’re definitely not the girl I met at regionals. I’m not sure why you would think that, but I’ve seen photos of you before, and I have never met you. There were several girls behind the Derbalife table at both NC and SC. 2) It wasn’t your facebook feed that was my source for this image. It was posted by a skater in the midwest, not the one you name. I don’t know where she picked it up.

    But here’s the thing. I get that you want to represent your brand well. And I do appreciate your offer of availability for questions about the product. But my problem is with the image/ad, not the product. It’s clearly composed to juxtapose thin and fat, branded respectively, as good and bad. It’s not about relative health, it’s not about someone lowering blood pressure or getting off medication or improving VO2 Max or endurance or 25-in-5 or recovery or celebrating an accomplishment or anything other than thinness and fatness. That’s my problem with it. That juxtaposition doesn’t inspire me, and I don’t know who it would inspire. You know what inspires me? Going to derby practice, seeing at least 5 other girls who look like me, who skate like the fucking wind and can take an opponent out on a dime. Success is inspiring. Perseverence and hard work and big goals are inspiring. Skating against amazing girls who *don’t* look like the girl on the left makes me want to work harder and be better against them next time. A picture of a headless woman with a round belly and a fast food logo branded on her arm just makes me want to retch.

    • jennifer
    • January 21st, 2012

    Steph, you should take up ice hockey. A lot of the women who play tend to have some meat on their bones, like the girl on the right, not the one on the left. And under all the pads no one cares anyway. We are all kick-ass athletes, no matter what society tells us about our appearance and body types.

    The main reason I never tried roller derby is that they don’t wear enough pads (and at least 10 people who know me have said I should try it)…. Not only is the chance for injury more real, but I get the sense about derby is that it’s so appearance-focused. No one cares what anyone looks like when we all have hockey equipment on and our out there on the ice.

    • Stephanie
    • January 21st, 2012

    Jen – thanks! You raise some really interesting points.

    For some girls who play roller derby, the appearance and the persona is very important; for others, it’s not at all. There’s definitely a continuum there, at all levels of the sport. I can’t speak for the derby community, but I know my reception as a bigger girl w/in leagues (3, now) has been positive. In fact, if anything I’ve found there can be a negative side effect of the “open to everyone” mantra — some derby girls really do just want to be derby girls (not derby skaters); they don’t want to skate hard and they don’t want to train and they don’t to work towards improvement of anything physically. And that’s a problem, if your league or team wants to compete.

    Hockey has always intrigued me, but I don’t even know if there’s a women’s league in the area. And I don’t know anything about the game, but I suppose I didn’t know anything about roller derby a couple of years ago!! 🙂

  1. January 21st, 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: