Making prospective clients feel bad about their bodies is NOT the way to go.
There are far better ways than body shaming to convince people to work with you or buy your product. Find out why.
Everyone exists in a different and unique body. The way we look is brought about by numerous factors: genetics, diet, lifestyle, environment, and the culmination of significant events—traumatic or joyful—which have happened to us over our lives and affected our physical or mental health.
The health and wellness sector is an entire industry aimed at helping people get healthier, whether that’s through fitness, dietary changes or supplements, natural remedies, or an array of other products or services. It’s an industry that I and many others are proud to be a part of. However, all too often people or companies focus on the wrong indicator of health—the shape of a person’s body. When that happens and advertising begins to slide down the slippery slope towards body shaming, we are actively working against the ideals we aim to promote.
Here’s why body shaming to get clients should be a no go for any fitness or wellness professional.
It’s the opposite of healthy
Health is a multifaceted thing. Those different facets work together to make up a person’s overall well being. Shaming people for something as intimately connected to them as their body is detrimental to their mental health, and that cannot be ignored by any fitness trainer or wellness practitioner.
This study which shows links between weight shame and depressive symptoms in older teens is just one of many that suggest body shaming has a direct effect on mental wellbeing. Anyone who says they are trying to promote health in those they work with must consider all facets of a person, not just the physical.
It’s based on a lie
The only reason that body shaming can be effective in influencing prospective clients and customers is that it taps into the belief that slimmer is always better or healthier. This is not the truth.
People can be in great health at just about any shape or size. There is a huge difference between giving legitimate medical advice about weight-related health concerns and body shaming to try to convince someone to use your product or service. Unless you are a doctor, there is no reason to be giving advice based on someone’s body. Your clients and customers can be healthy and fit no matter the size of their clothing. They can also be attractive, confident, desirable, and comfortable with themselves at any size.
It’s all smoke and mirrors anyway
Body shaming is often perpetuated with glossy images of thin, muscular individuals, male and female alike. These are presented as something to aspire to. Sometimes this aspirational imagery comes in the form of before and after pictures which romanticise the journey from “before” (often a perfectly normal size) to “after” (slim and toned).
The problem with such imagery is that it’s often exaggerated. You’d be surprised what can go into the perfect “after” photo—make-up, careful posing, ideal lighting, fasting before a photo shoot, editing, airbrushing, and other tricks to achieve the desired aesthetic. Usually, even the very fit people you see on social media don’t look that way in real life.
It’s easy to conclude from the above points that body shaming to get clients is ethically and morally questionable, and not something that any decent fitness or wellness practitioner should engage in. However, there’s good news. It’s far from the only way to gain clientele, and in fact, it’s not even the most effective.
Here are some tips on how to better market your services and products:
- Finding out what your prospective clients want to achieve and demonstrating that you can help them get there is the best way to advertise yourself and what you are selling.
- Discover their pain points, and speak directly to your target audience.
- Talk up the positives you will be adding to their lives, and don’t speak negatively about their current shape or lifestyle.
- Be honest in your advertising and if you can, use imagery and testimonials from real, relatable people.
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