Why seeing diversity matters

Last week, several friends circulated a news story about an ad for a new smart watch. So smart, you need carry nothing, not even your clothes to be connected. Take a moment and have a look. I’ll wait.

Screenshot from Nova ad shows older couple dancing in their home.

The ad, now only available in a 30 second version, started with various individuals undressing. Another edited version showing more scenes from the ad can be found here, albeit with content warnings and blurring. The new version starts with a man diving into a pool. The ad shows all kinds of people with different kinds of bodies — old, young, slim, wide, dimply, wrinkly, saggy, tight, smooth, tattooed — doing all kinds of things: swimming, presenting at a meeting, shopping, riding a bike or scooter, jumping on a trampoline, running, dancing.

Screenshot from Nova ad shows people checking out from a store. Image presents diversity in human bodies.

Completely naked. Starkers. Birthday suits one and all. The vision behind the ad is clear:

Nova wants to draw attention to the importance of mental health and how to improve mental well-being. We encourage people to be aware of screen time, social media browsing, and watching TV. With the campaign, we are celebrating the body. We are all beautiful and we want people to feel good, exactly as they are. On social media, we are blasted with unrealistic beauty and body standards – not the reality. Excessive use of social media can affect our self-image and Úrlausn (eSIM) is a great way to spend less time in front of the screen.

We really need to talk about self-love and respect for our body. We come in all possible shapes and sizes. Here is our new ad in all its glory. Nothing to hide. Nothing to be ashamed of. Just the way we are.

I really like the ad. It could have included more ethnic diversity and also differently abled people, but it gets top marks for showing such an incredible range of body shapes, genders, and ethnicity. I also liked how having a body that wasn’t ripped, complete with six pack abs and giant guns, could still do all kinds of fun and functional things. I really liked the scene with the older couple dancing and another featuring a younger woman just getting into the groove of the music (Don’t Leave me this Way by the Communards).

Screenshot from Nova ad shows an older, white person with belly rolls performing an exercise in a swimming pool.

The best part though was the message around mental health and well being. We are surrounded on social media of carefully curated images of food, clothing, homes, and bodies. It was refreshing to see people unconcerned about how their bodies looked when they moved, or even when they didn’t (as evidenced by the office set).

Screenshot from Nova ad shows older white person looking happy in a swimming pool.

I’m not talking about being clean, neat and tidy. I’m thinking about all the tips and tricks shared on the Internet to show your best side and how to be skinnier on camera (it’s a real thing!). Once you start noticing the things these sites recommend, you really see how many people work hard to avoid looking fat (chins up and out, camera held at higher angles, arms in any position other than hanging straight down etc).

So yes, it’s refreshing and liberating to see people doing what they do without giving a tinker’s damn how they look. It makes me sad though thinking about how many people hide themselves or beat themselves up mentally because they don’t fit a socially mandated and artificial construction of what a human body should look like.

It’s sad because not ten minutes after I started searching for a link, I got an ad in one of my news feeds for Bathing Boomers swimwear, swimsuits marketed to mid-life and older women to camouflage their “lives well lived.” The web copy says the goal of the company is to help women feel dignified, stylish and confident by hiding all the problem areas (the jiggly bits and bumps).

Here’s a newsflash: you don’t make women feel confident by saying parts of their body are a problem. I think I’ll add Nova’s ad to my happy video stream just as a reminder that all bodies are beautiful in their own way and we don’t need to hide anything regardless of how we are shaped.

MarthaFitat55 writes from St. John’s.

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