Portrayal of Women
I am interested in using SuperBetter as a tool for staying physically and mentally fit while having to finish a long and arduous project. The idea for this site and the way it is arranged is fantastic. However, when I have emailed a few friends to tell them about the site, all six were first struck by McGonigal's stage make up and unnecessary cleavage. For a self-help (or self-acceptance) site, McGonigal's styling seems to have missed the mark, appearing either threatening or comically bad.
Here's an email excerpt from a male friend of mine:
OK. I'm glad it's not just me who was weirded out by her appearance. I was feeling a little superficial for a minute there--here's this woman trying to seem genuinely interested in helping others, and I'm all like "WHOA, what happened to YOU?"
This has been a great conversation, and we appreciate the different perspectives offered here in the comments. We’ll keep these notes in mind when we approach future video content.
I too was very turned off by the videos and almost didn't look further. I'm glad I did, since the site turned out to be great, but please consider the first impression you are creating - it is not at all consistent with the tone of the site as a whole (much more cheesy, superficial, even trivializing as someone said previously; makes you think this site couldn't possibly help with real deep issues). Note that this is not at all a reflection on Jane herself, just the style in which the videos were shot.
Really hope something will be done about this soon - I honestly don't feel comfortable recommending the site to friends as it stands. I think just a colorful animated or text intro would be a big improvement, and maybe include a link to the TED talk as well.
I really admire and respect Jane, especially after seeing both her Ted talks. In those talks, she seems very authentic, down-to-earth and even has her own cool sense of style going on. She seems to me like a super smart, girl next door with a really powerful hero side inside of her. The appearance of the videos on Superbetter definitely give off a different vibe. I don't believe Jane's outfit and makeup degrade her in any way, but maybe just make her feel less human and approachable.
I find this comment rude, and unenlightened. Women are free to present themselves as they choose. They should not have to feel censored and censured by anyone with a narrow view of gendered performance. I hope that Jane is not personally affected by this negative, small-minded talk
I find the existance of this thread a bit strange. Have none of you ever seen an exercise video? That was what first leapt to mind when I saw Ms. McGonigal's videos on this site, that she was taking on the signs and symbols of any other fitness coach. Does anyone dress for work the way they would at home? Why would you assume that of someone who's work is to stand in front of a camera?
As I said, strange.
I mean, I don't think it should matter what she looks like. But of course people judge on appearances.
I think her zipper is too low on the blouse. Other than that I think she looks great.
I saw her on CNN and was impressed enough to come to the site. My demographic is age 40, professional woman with kids, college educated, spiritual but not religious.
I feel that the above comment is rather judgemental of how another women wants to present herself. Making comments of other's appearance, such as saying a women is wearing too much make-up or showing too much cleavage is basic body-policing/shaming of another . And women get too much of this crap as it is! If you are interested in self-help it may be better to first consider why you find such things discomforting, and if shaming others is the best way to deal with this discomfort.
I was also weirded out by her appearance. The cleavage and eye makeup are unnecessary. It's almost like she's trying to appeal to people on a sexual level to get them to sign up for a self-help site.. it doesn't make sense. Luckily I was able to stick with the intro videos long enough to like the site, but I bet a lot of people will be permanently turned off by this.
Liz Armstrong commented
I disagree. I like Jane as herself. I'm a woman and I think as a society we need to stop constantly nitpicking how women look.
Marcelo Antunes commented
I think she looks very pretty and sounds very smart. There are so many types of female beauty even flowers can't keep up.
Zachary Hebert commented
Dear Jane, I agree with Steve Graham. Even though as I was watching the videos I was not judging you, I was thinking of how others would see you. The object of this site is to improve oneself, that inherently means the people joining are not perfect. One can't tell people how they should feel, they're going to feel what they feel. It is obvious that people are distracted by your cleavage and use of make-up, which blocks potential players from trying the game. When presenting yourself you must think of your audience. I think you may have dressed for the wrong target audience.
steve graham commented
Don't confuse describing reactions people have had or observed and suggesting that some things may not come across as intended with "trolling" or "insecurity". The point of feedback is to provide information about the site and how well it achieves its intended aims, from the perspective of people making use of it. This thread most certainly should NOT have died. If there are people who might use the site but are discouraged because of their reactions to aspects of it, that is valuable and essential information to the people building and promoting the site. It doesn't necessarily mean they should change anything, but it is important that they should be aware of such reactions.
Todd B. commented
Clearly there are a number of insecure individuals out there who really are uncomfortable with the human body, and are seeking out new topics for their trolling activities. This thread should have died before it even began. Please remember why we are here... to try an improve ourselves, not to recklessly pass judgement on others.
But there is some good news: I think a few of you might have just discovered a solid Bad Guy for you to fight - your own judgmental insecurity, perhaps?
Kate M. commented
SuperBetter is a place to feel safe, to heal, to get healthy. Attacking Jane's appearance is unnecessary and misogynistic.
I was first introduced to the ides of SuperBetter through an article in Forbes magazine. It was an interview with Jane McGonigal about her background in gaming and game development as well as her personal journey that became the nugget of developing SuperBetter.
If you haven't read it, I'd search for it and give it a read, perhaps you'll find that you can see her as a talented, hardworking person who has taken her own harrowing journey in SuperBettering herself and expanded it to become a game which could help others garner the skills neccessary to SuperBetter themselves. And ye, all with a particular unique style.
It is an unfortunate habit of all humans to judge based upon appearance even when we make an effort not to do so. To help our fellow humans get SuperBetter, we need to remember to distinguish between style and substance.
That's just Jane? I don't think so. That makes it sound like she wouldn't have considered how her appearance would matter, and not taking something like that into consideration would not be Jane. I think all the marketing aspects of the videos, including her appearance, are thoroughly thought out. But yeah, I am another one who thought the cleavage detracted (or at least distracted) from the message.
This kind of generalization of any woman who wears makeup, or shows any cleavage (she's wearing a track jacket! Come on!) as sexually exploitive or distracting is lame. Don't blame her because you looked at her and had superficial thoughts. When you judge someone else like that, you're only reflecting your own insecurities on another. Maybe "being less judgmental of others based on their appearance" would be a nice idea for the next SuperBetter project? Women, and men, should be able to wear what they feel comfortable in, not what YOU feel comfortable seeing. Self-help starts with yourself, so look there first.
I agree that it's not the portrayal of 'women,' but just Jane, and personally, if she wants to show a little cleavage, more power to her. I didn't feel it was exploitative at all, and was just how she dresses. I didn't feel it was over the top whatsoever.
Kimberly Genly commented
It seems a little unfair to generalize this to portrayal of *women*. It's just Jane. That's how she does.