A new ad featuring a bikini clad supermodel, Ymre Stiekema, running while pushing her two year old in a jogging stroller has recharged the social media conversation among women (moms or not) about body image.
When luxury Dutch stroller company Bugaboo posted a promotional photo on the company’s Facebook page last month, the caption read in part: “See how model and mum Ymre Stiekema stays fit and healthy with the Bugaboo Runner.” Needless to say, it wasn’t long before Facebook and Twitter erupted with a wide-range of reactions against the company and the model Stiekema herself. From mothers, especially new moms, outraged at the seemingly unobtainable standards for women to supporters claiming the company’s ad provides inspiration and promotes an active lifestyle.
Online social media debates have turned ugly with women bashing other women based on their lifestyle choices, body type and parenting techniques. As Bugaboo explained, the brand’s intention is to inspire, and encourage parents to explore the world and stay active and healthy. According to the company statement released to NBC’s Today, “We believe that all parents should run free no matter where they are on their fitness journeys and what they choose to wear on their runs.”
Social media debates between mothers aren’t new. However, criticizing a company for featuring a young mother leading an active lifestyle poses a unique challenge. While women face innumerable pressures to conform to societal standards of beauty, a glaring hole in this debate is the lack attention paid to who the target audience of this stroller is. Bugaboo’s stroller is manufactured to cater specifically to runners. 23-year old model Stiekema reflects a specific demographic: a young mother, leading an extremely active lifestyle whose career is dependent on her physical appearance. People need to be able to separate the different body image debates. The fitness industry market is notorious for using similarly bikini-clad models in their promotional materials, with many finding these images to be aspirational. Why should a stroller brand aimed at consumers who lead an active lifestyle be any different?
Are you a parent who uses (or has used) a running stroller? Tell us what you think of Bugaboo’s ad campaign.