Oh, stock photos.
First, there’s women laughing alone with salad and fat people without heads. We’ve written about both of these before.
My new obsession is women lifting tiny weights.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with lifting tiny dumbbells. After all, we’re all in favour of starting small. It’s just that they are over-represented among the stock photos of women lifting weights.
I first encountered some of the photos in this piece about older women and strength training: You don’t have to be young to build muscle: how women are breaking fitness taboos
“Stock photos are the internet’s idea of what the world should look like, sets of generic images intended to illustrate articles and advertising, often revealing more worldview than they probably set out to. There are famously a lot of photos of white women laughing near salad, meant for healthy eating content, but also reinforcing inane cheer and self-denial as cornerstones of femininity. If fitness imagery of the young is all about aspiration – six packs, muscle definition and impossible body fat percentages – fitness imagery of older people is almost anti-aspirational. Its message is: “You probably can’t do anything at all, but look over here, there’s a lady managing this tiny thing.”
And then since I was starting to write about strength training I started to search for some photos myself, checking out Unsplash and Scopio, and searching for older women lifting weights. I got tiny weights but young women. One older woman but she’s lifting groceries.
Once you notice the phenomena it’s kind of striking.
Stock photos of women and weights are either very glamorous looking women–white, twenty something, lean and muscular and in a CrossFit style gym– or they’re lifting teeny tiny dumbbells.
Definitely more variety needed!