Strength: The diversity of bodies in Nike’s “Make Yourself” Campaign

“Make Yourself Strong” (Original)

As stated in the Nike “Make Yourself” campaign, the advertisement highlights female athletes from around the world in an attempt to appeal to young women aspiring to be athletes. A major problem however is the lack of diversity within the campaign.

While attached is one of the many campaign advertisements, models in other advertisements of the “Make Yourself” campaign have virtually the same slender body type. While this does not directly body shame larger women, it continues to perpetrate the idea to society that skinniness is what defines strength and beauty in women. While strength can be defined on a multitude of different levels, such as emotionally, physically and psychologically, an advertisement of this nature puts forward the idea to society that skinniness is what exclusively defines strength.

Logically, muscular women are physically stronger than slim women, yet images in the media, such as this advertisement, do not reflect this reality. Women who are emotionally or psychologically strong are not showcased either. Instead, the campaign repeatedly highlights slim women as strong in multiple advertisements and does not display the diversities in the definitions of strength in women. Especially in an advertisement targeting a younger and more impressionable audience, this message can encourage body shaming within society.

There are countless female athletes who are unquestionably strong, under different definitions, who are different in size in comparison to those showcased in the “Make Yourself” campaign. It is regretful that this advertisement does not showcase body positivity and instead continues to perpetrate unrealistic body images of women.

“Make Yourself Strong” (Jammed)

The above image is a jammed version of the Nike “Make Yourself” campaign advertisement, showcasing and alternative definition of strength to the rest of the campaign.

Using photo editing software, I edited the body of the model to reflect features of what a woman who is physically strong could also look like. I included muscles, stronger facial features and broader shoulders. This decision was made because as an athlete, I look up to my female teammates and I see them as strong. Physically, they look nothing like the woman I see in the “Make Yourself” campaign. I also decided to highlight more masculine features to challenge the idea of beauty and femininity and how in society, often women who possess masculine body features are body shamed and are not widely accepted by society.

This jammed version brings up the idea that strength is defined in more than one way. While the unjammed version exclusively advertises skinny women as strong, the reality is that big women, and women of all body types are also strong in their own way. This jammed version also critiques society’s definition of women’s bodies and how if women possess masculine features, they should not be looked down upon and body shamed. Instead, strength should be self-defined on the individual and should not have borders placed on it by society, as noted with the message on the ad; “Make Yourself Strong.”

As such a large company, the magnitude of influence that Nike has on the world is colossal. By specifically targeting young women in this advertisement, they continue to perpetrate the idea that only skinny women are strong and beautiful, which overall contributes to body shaming and the lack of body positivity in the younger generation.