The Crossfit community is a tight knit group of people who tend to be extremely passionate about their sport. While some outsiders would argue they take their enthusiasm too far, I’d argue there are far worse things in life than to be fanatical about working out and following a specific nutrition plan. That’s a debate for another time. The reality is you don’t have to be a participant to appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to become one of the elite athletes in Crossfit.
The Crossfit Games are held once a year, usually the end of July, and crown “The Fittest Woman (and man) on Earth.” Helluva title, right? It’s the holy grail of Crossfit and a sacred stature that few have reached. There’s no denying that if you win it, you’re a bad ass. This year’s female winner was Canadian Camille LeBlanc. Camille has landed multiple endorsement deals and unquestionably has a marketable look because of the hardbody she’s built. She trains like a beast and is a role model for women and men, in and out of Crossfit. She works hard, eats right, trains consistently and has fun along the way. Winning this year’s Crossfit Games makes her a no-brainer to grace the cover of a Crossfit magazine.
Camille was featured on Oxygen magazine’s last issue out of the Canadian offices (July 2013). On that cover they asked, “Could this be the fittest woman on earth?” In the Crossfit world the answer, albeit it officially validated a year later, would be YES!
The mag shut down for a stint and reopened under new publishers, Active Interest Media (AIM). AIM acquired Oxygen and two other titles previously published by Robert Kennedy but why is this important? AIM publishes ‘The Box’ magazine. Their website states The Box Magazine “serves the vast — and growing — population of CrossFitters. It educates new practitioners about CrossFit’s benefits, motivates existing members of the CrossFit community and advocates for the sport of CrossFit.”
The Box typically shows an athlete or athletes in workout attire on their cover. The magazine is published bi-monthly and has done a good job of featuring men and women on their covers over the years. It’s one of the few magazines that showcases an athlete as an athlete… until now. This month, The Box opted to show the newly crowned Fittest Woman on Earth® in a swimsuit, on a beach for their cover.
It’s not the first time she’s been on The Box cover. Camille was featured on the October-November 2012 cover and they called her “The Face of Fitness”. Pretty good call, right? So why would they stray from their usual covers and present Camille as a swimsuit model instead of an athlete? Great question and it’s one that has the Crossfit nation up in arms over. It’s not only because she’s presented as a swimsuit model but also the poor job they did “photoshopping” her.
Let’s be clear. Yes, every magazine has “photoshopping” done to it. That’s the “reality” of the magazine biz however there’s a difference in recreating a body and retouching/editing one. Removing stray hairs, a bright spot in the skin and/or a skin blemish are part of retouching any image. I know, I’m a photographer and I edit photos daily. Did Camille get a bad photoshop job on her latest cover? Ya, her waist is the most obvious. She’s also got a sic set of abs but you’d never know that from the photo, in fact you’d wonder where they are if you had never seen her before.
There’s no reason to modify Camille, The FITTEST Woman on Earth, to be something she’s not. She’s not a swimsuit model. She never claims to be. She never strives to be one. When I interviewed her I asked her, “Do you feel like there’s pressure on women to look a certain way in CrossFit?” She shared, “Yes, I think women still want to be small and ripped, but I think we shouldn’t care about the way we look as long as our fitness is going up.” Camille’s fitness went up since then and she didn’t worry about being small and ripped as it’s irrelevant to her winning The Game. It’s a too bad The Box thought showcasing her as smaller and more ripped would be relevant to selling magazines. I find the corny “Life’s a Beach” and “awash in opportunity” nearly as silly as the image.
The Crossfit nation has called bullshit on the cover and you have to appreciate some of the comments being posted online about it. Let’s start with the posting of the image on The Box’s Facebook page.
Ouch. I’m guessing not quite the response they expected but BRAVO for fans and readers calling it out.
When the fans asked (many demanded) for an explanation, The Box demonstrated how NOT to respond. Public Relations 101 – don’t try to be funny and don’t add fuel to a fire. You’d be more productive pissing into the wind. Here’s what they posted.
An angry mob photo. Funny. Ha. Not. FAIL.
A couple quotes from fans…
“I am NEVER negative and I keep my page that way for a reason….. But i just couldn’t help but feel sad just quite mad a magazine such a “The BOX magazine” would photoshop camilles picture and take away her muscles… Why??????
We’re suppose to EMBRACE our hard earned work not “hide” or take away from them and “conform” to what society wants. Truly disappointed in this one.
Always Always EMBRACE your muscles ladies… ALWAYS!!!”
– CFStrongWomen FB
Reddit members are sounding off too.
The second I saw the cover I could tell something was wrong immediately. The thing is, Camille is obviously beautiful and strong and fit, but we all know she doesn’t have the smallest waist and that doesn’t matter at all. – emptycalsxycuriosityDeuce Gym
“That is insulting. She’s worked her ass off to get where she is and then this magazine photoshops her muscles OFF? I can’t wrap my brain around this… Usually people would photoshop MORE definition not take definition away. Wtf.” - patrickkevinsays
“The saddest thing about it is it buys into the fear that women who lift are too bulky/manly to be conventionally attractive. Women still need to be soft and curvy (but still thin) to be beautiful. Even the fittest woman on earth doesn’t have the ‘ideal’ body shape so they photoshopped out her amazing abs that allow her to do all the amazing gymnastic movements she’s known for.” – viaaa
Another Crossfit magazine, BoxLife, posted…
WOD Talk magazine was a little more subtle with their jab at the cover and posted…
As I was finishing this article The Box Editor-in-Chief posted a response on Facebook. I couldn’t help put do a face palm in horror at the opening, “My name is Jordana Brown, and I’m the editor-in-chief of The Box magazine. Before everyone looks at my profile and starts doubting, I’ll tell you this: I don’t have a robust profile here because I hate Facebook. I hate Facebook because I don’t trust it.” Way to embrace the fans/readers ON FACEBOOK while they are going bat shit crazy over your latest cover. It doesn’t matter if YOU like Facebook or not, it’s the medium you chose to post your latest cover on. Any who…
Jordana defends the cover by saying, “A professional photo shoot with an experienced photographer who uses camera angles and poses the athlete to compose a shot, along with expert lighting, hair and makeup, will result in photos that look completely unlike anything you might find from a Google image search. In fact, it was our intent to show you a Camille you haven’t seen before — and to prove that beauty and strength coexist in her perfect body.”
Very true however the same professional photographer was used for previous covers. The same photographer used “expert lighting” and “camera angles” to compose every previous cover shot. So that’s a ridiculous statement in defense of the image. Jordana isn’t wrong in the statement but wrong to use it as a defense for this cover and for this athlete. The same athlete they’ve shown on the cover before. Oh right, I forgot they wanted to show “a Camille you haven’t seen before” and “prove that beauty and strength coexist”. They accomplished the first part but how ridiculous on the second part. Everyone who has followed Camille (cough, cough your magazine readers and those commenting on the social media platform you hate) knows she embodies strength and beauty. They didn’t need to see a poorly photoshopped image to know they coexist. And back to that pesky photoshop topic. Jordana defends it by sharing, “Did we do some color correction and use Photoshop on the image? Yes. Did we airbrush or retouch Camille’s abs, legs, muscles? No. Did her body need any work? No. Do we regret having done anything at all? Yes.”
Only those who have seen the RAW, unedited image will know for certain what was done to it. At this point does it matter? The readers aren’t stupid and regardless of what was done or not done to the image it doesn’t reflect the buying audience of The Box. They clearly don’t give a crap about seeing The Fittest Woman on Earth in a swimsuit on the beach. You might want to buy the issue since I’ll bet it’s the first and last time you see a beach / swimsuit cover.
What can we learn from The Box Backlash?
Don’t play readers and fans for fools.
Strong is sexy.
Strong is beautiful.
hate photoshop badly photoshopped images.
Also of note, no one (myself included) is bashing or blaming Camille for the cover. Some people have questioned “how could she allow this” and “how would she approve this cover”. When you shoot for a magazine (this goes for a model and photographer) you have no idea what image will run and how it will be used. Cover images are often swapped out a dozen times before going to print. Many times right before press there will be a completely different image or even a new model.
Camille is strong. Camille is beautiful. Camille is a bad ass.
Check out her instagram account and you can follow her strength and beauty as she presents it.
Great lifting session doing 2 hang clean every 2 minute for 8 sets… This is 220pounds felt quite heavy at the end … #gettingstronger #lifting #pink #strenght #ryourogue #xendurance @roguefitness @reebok @rehband @xendurance @fitmarkbags @paleopowermeals