WWE Superstars Body Image Issues, Social Media Influences and Fitness Programs | Smark Out Moment

WWE Superstars Body Image Issues, Social Media Influences and Fitness Programs

Posted by Outside Interference Tuesday, May 8, 2018
WWE and the professional wrestling business in general has always had deeply rooted ties to the fitness world in more ways than one.

The first thing many people take notice of with a sports entertainer is their look, which has led to proponents and critics of the adage that professional wrestlers need to be "larger than life."

Hulk Hogan was, and in many ways still is, huge. He talked about his 24-inch pythons and told kids to eat their vitamins. Andre the Giant was a spectacle because he was a giant, not because he was "Andre." Big Show is literally Big Show because he's big.

There is always a discussion that "Vince McMahon likes the big guys more" and that's why it's easier for an Ultimate Warrior to get a championship reign than a Cody Rhodes. For the longest time, we've heard that Kevin Owens doesn't have a "WWE body type" and that the cruiserweights aren't getting more viewers because they're "too small" and Dolph Ziggler would be at the top of the field if he were a few inches taller, while people like Mason Ryan had gotten pushes out of nowhere due seemingly entirely to their size.

This has died down considerably over the years, even though it isn't entirely gone, but there are still so many different ways WWE and sports entertainment as a whole are interwoven with fitness not just in the sense of staying in shape, but in terms of looks.

In the tribute special for Bruno Sammartino, he mentioned how he was discovered because of working out in the gym. This still happens from time to time, and there are even people who don't fully transition into WWE as a performer but still keep their focus on the training aspect. Take a look at Sean Hayes—the strength and conditioning coach for the WWE Performance Center—and his awesome impressions of Stone Cold and Ric Flair.

Some superstars like John Cena are particularly passionate about weight training and fitness programs as one of the many aspects of their career that just crosses over into a flat out hobby. The same goes for Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, the latter of whom even had their own Power Series and Fit Series of workout videos, respectively.

A big portion of the build on the feud between Triple H and Stephanie McMahon against Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle was the reminder to the audience about just how passionate The Authority were about fitness, making it a point to show that they are dedicated to all aspects of it: the look, the intensity, the dedication, the

There's the WWE Body Series photo shoots, sponsored by Tapout, who have been associated with WWE for the past several years. Sheamus has recently been doing a side channel on YouTube called Celtic Warrior Workouts with nearly 100k subscribers. Seth Rollins is Crossfit Jesus, so on and so forth.

For the most part, it seems like a natural fit to have an association between an athletic product and a fitness regimen as they go hand in hand and without the latter, the performers would just look like your average Joe—one of the main go-to things for a heel to bring up. Big Cass is currently feuding with Daniel Bryan primarily over the idea that he isn't the physical specimen Cass is, but he's the heel in the situation. Nobody should be taking that as an argument that smaller people are legitimately devalued, particularly as he's the one who got the win at Backlash.

Something that has had some heat behind it—both positively and negatively—has been the feud between Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss, because it revolves around three central points: 1) a championship, 2) a friendship ending, and 3) weight jokes.

Nia Jax is "not like most girls" and even though she's spent the majority of her time in WWE as a heel, her recent face turn has been dictated entirely by taking on a stance of a body-positive outlook on things. Yes, she's considerably bigger than the average woman on the roster, but the whole point of her character and the message WWE is trying to send is that she is the hero in this situation, not the villain.

Her being picked on by Alexa Bliss is supposed to upset you, because you're supposed to want to see Nia beat the hell out of Alexa for being such a mean person with her Moment of Bliss promos where she's calling Nia the bully and making fun of her weight, like this one:

Meanwhile, if you're the type of person who gets into WWE wanting to have some wish fulfillment of just seeing super attractive, muscular people, you still get your fix. Even in the case of Alexa, she makes a case for her character's argument by posting images on Twitter that make the internet go crazy, like this one of her poolside:

It's multifaceted, as you have a body-positive anti-bullying storyline, you have the ability to gawk at sexy people if you want to, and then you have the athleticism of the matches themselves.

Some people fire back at situations like this by saying it sexualizes the women too much and knowing that Alexa Bliss recently underwent breast enhancement surgery, as did Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, and they're perpetually posting pictures of their bodies on social media, that it glamorizes their bodies more than anything else, but while that does make the news much more than where The IIconics buy supplements in Australia to get to look the way they do, it isn't as though the men are exempt from this "fit is in" lifestyle viewpoint, nor does WWE ever stop trying to tap into the fitness and nutrition market in more positive ways, too.

Just take a look at an example of some of the other social media posts that you can see with this example of Charlotte Flair promoting HelloFresh.

Kurt Angle has BarnDad Nutrition. Former WWE superstar Ryback has Feed Me More Nutrition. Clearly, there is a sense that WWE performers want to look as good as they can, but they and the company as a whole value the health side of fitness just as much in many ways, too, and it isn't entirely about body image and trying to perpetuate ideas that would belittle the audience members who can't rock a two-piece and have everybody stare at them with their mouths open.

So what is this all trying to say? Mostly, that there are always going to be people bringing up positive and negative things about WWE and body image issues, particularly in regards to the women's division standards of beauty and whether or not smaller male wrestlers are entitled to significant pushes when there are bigger and more powerful looking men who can make them look weaker.

However, it's important to keep in mind that part of what's great about WWE is its variety, and as long as there isn't some company-wide edict on television that actually starts actively going against the Be a Star program and becomes a negative influence on the viewing audience, part of this criticism we have against the company is more of a reflection on ourselves and the arguments we're bringing into the discussion rather than it resting entirely on WWE's shoulders.

Bottom line: if you've got some inadequacy issues that you feel are being poked at and making you feel bad, the power rests in you to fix them through proper training, dieting, exercise and everything else, not to look for peace of mind in your television programming.

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