Fitness Star Cassey Ho Takes on the Perfect Body
Imagine trying to put something empowering into the world, and in return getting attacked by vicious social media commenters. That’s what’s been happening to YouTube fitness star Cassey Ho. Her YouTube channel, Blogilates, has over 2 million subscribers where she posts Pilates and bootcamp workout videos that receive hundreds of thousands of views. But along with those views come a slew of negative comments. Readers have criticized Ho’s own body, telling her to tone up, lose weight, and stop giving advice “when you’re so fat.” This week she decided to take a stand with a powerful new video that tackles online bullies, self-esteem, body image, and Photoshop all at once.
“It’s hard to be content with the shape of your body when people are constantly telling you how fat you are,” says Ho in a statement accompanying the video. “The backhanded compliments, the mean comments, the cyber bullying - all of this messes with us…and it hurts.” In the video the 28-year-old posts a selfie and then takes a minute to scroll through the comments. She smiles reading the positive ones that tell her how inspiring and helpful her videos are, but her face falls when she starts to read the mean ones.
Ho then strips down and starts virtually Photoshopping her body to unattainable proportions. It’s a provocative visual statement on the pressure she feels to try and mold her body to an ideal that just isn’t real. It also speaks to the link between confidence and body image, if Ho, who is in amazing shape is feeling insecure and vulnerable about her body, it says something about how skewed our perception of what’s beautiful is. Ho wants to highlight how due to the prevalence of retouching, people are have become so out of touch with what real bodies look like. “It’s tough knowing what’s real and what’s not when magazine covers and music videos are photoshopped (yes, music videos, Instagram pics are photoshopped), and so many women are getting surgery,” Ho said on her Instagram account. “How are we to know what kind of beauty can be naturally achieved when everything around us is so deceiving?”
Ho also posted a selfie on her Instagram account to promote her new video. In the photo (which she didn’t say was altered), she has made her waist thinner and created a visible thigh gap. This photo was met with comments that praised her for being a fitness inspiration and comments that degraded her for being too thin, or worse, still not thin enough.
The first photo posted on Ho’s Instagram account, showing her photoshopped body. (Photo: Instagram)
She posted a follow up image that highlighted some of the comments she had received on the photo and acknowledged that the original photo had been edited. In the caption of her photo, she wrote: “I wanted to post again because there was a weird phenomenon that happened when I posted this photoshopped picture. On the very same photo, I got some people praising me and others degrading me.” She continued in saying, “ What worries me is this: 1. That some people think this is real and that it should be “goals.” 2. That some people still think it’s not good enough.”
The photo Ho posted that highlights some of the comments she received on her original photo. (Photo: Instagram)
Kudos to Ho for publicly talking about the dark side of social media. Women, in particular, are often attacked based on their looks. There is this strange culture of commenting, where people say things online that they would never say to someone’s face. In the race to be the wittiest (or meanest) a lot of horrible things are said, and those words have consequences. It takes a lot to not be affected. By admitting that she is affected, Ho is opening up a powerful discussion.