We posted this Huffington Post report on our Facebook page the other day. The headline: “Playboy Workout Helps You Get a Bodacious Bunny Body.” I get a visceral negative reaction to this type of thing.
And when they promote it with the language of empowerment, I just have to wonder how far we’ve actually come.
I clicked through to the website of the sleek, stylish gym that’s offering the “Bunny Bootcamp” classes, and came across this description of the class:
“Achieve your ‘Bunny Beautiful’ body: a healthy and strong shape for the modern woman, emphasizing natural curves, using signature Playboy Club Bunny moves.”
This same gym also offers classes where you can “twerk it out.” But back to the bunny workout.
The promo video for this class says that “everyone has an inner Bunny.” Flashing words like “sexy,” “healthy,” and “strong” across the screen as bunny-type young women do sexy fitness moves in front of the Playboy mansion, the video encourages you to “earn your ears” and “get bunny beautiful.”
The bunny bootcamp replaces BMI with its own BMI: Bunny Measurement Index, where you get points for your physical measurements and also for things like “perkiness.”
What can you expect if you sign up for a Bunny Bootcamp class? The Huffington Post article says you can expect:
a 45-minute high-intensity workout designed to have you not only looking fit should you don a bunny costume but feeling “healthy and empowered.”
Some of the moves include the empowering Bunny Perch, typically used to greet guests while flaunting your toned backside, and the Bunny Dip, a quad-burning pose designed to serve retro cocktails to big tippers.
I’m not saying the women in the video and at the mansion aren’t beautiful. They most decidedly are. And I’m not down on the idea that sexy and strong are good, honest, empowering qualities.
But despite its iconic status, the Playboy bunny is such a relic that it makes me sad to think that it still stands as a symbol of what some women aspire to. I just have difficulty seeing what is empowering about making yourself “Bunny beautiful,” knowing that this means living up to a certain aesthetic and pretty much accepting that your role is to serve men and look pretty while doing it.
I’m not going to bash the women to whom this appeals and who want to take the class. But I do want to say that, for starters, if you’re not already close to being “bunny beautiful,” it’s unlikely that this (or any) class will get you there.
And also, there are loads of other classes and activities to choose from that are equally (or more) high intensity and don’t seek to supposedly empower us by making us into servile sex objects.
Sam and I have said plenty on the blog about replacing aesthetic values with athletic values. It’s not always true that a certain look, even one we associate with fitness and health, is attainable in a healthy way. See my post on fitness models for more on this point.
The Bunny Bootcamp seems regressive, reviving and trading on a symbol of female sexual passivity and subordination that lamentably remains with us.