The Bee's Pajamas

Photography, politics and random other stuff from an aging Aspie brain

There are no Pelotons in “The Handmaid’s Tale”

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I’m starting to think I’m the only person in America who is not offended, outraged or even annoyed by the new Peloton commercial, which has been called everything from sexist to body-shaming to dystopian. It’s an exercise bike commercial, people, not “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Disclaimer #1: Body shaming and looks-shaming are not OK. I have been subjected to my share of it as an overweight woman, and it’s not cool. Ever.

Disclaimer #2: Feelings-shaming is also not OK. I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone they shouldn’t feel offended or outraged; however, changing the way you think about something can change the way you feel about it. I am here to suggest a different way of thinking about this commercial.

You can view the ad here. If you can’t or don’t care to watch it, it goes like this:

A husband surprises his wife with the gift of a Peloton stationary bike — a very expensive piece of equipment that comes with spin classes on streaming video to follow along with. The wife, whose name, we soon learn, is Grace, is thrilled. She jumps into her new workout routine “nervous, but excited.”

The ad follows her over the next year as she videos herself on the bike and ends with her watching a montage of her video journey with her husband. She says at the end of the montage, “A year ago, I didn’t realize how much this would change me. Thank you.”

Those who dislike the ad seem to think that Grace’s husband gave her the bike because he’s unhappy with her appearance and wants her to “get in shape,” and might even be pressuring her into using it. Here’s why I disagree:

  • First, Grace is obviously thrilled to receive the gift. Which tells me she actually WANTED it. Perhaps she asked outright for an exercise bike, or dropped hints about how much she’d like one. Her delighted reaction may come from the fact that hubby got her a Peloton rather than a less expensive, less fancy bike.
  • Second, Grace is slender — skinny, even. Whatever her reasons for wanting an exercise bike — and I stand by my belief that she did, indeed, want one — losing weight is not one of them. She obviously benefited from her regular exercise routine and is happy with the results. What’s wrong with that?

I’m not the first person to make this observation, but if Grace were visibly overweight, this might be a very different commercial. It would probably have lots of disclaimers — e.g., our heroine exclaiming, “Just what I wanted!” or something similar to emphasize that this was HER idea, not his. More likely, though, judging from Peloton’s track record, they wouldn’t even go there.

I’m not here to talk anyone out of disliking the commercial or refusing to buy a Peloton because of it. I’m not planning to buy one myself — because (a) I don’t have room for one, and (b) they are bloody expensive.

Here’s to getting what you want for Christmas/Hanukkah/Your Holiday Here — not what someone else wants for you. Here at TBP, just as in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, we like you just as you are.

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