When one beauty blogger proclaimed it's "a necessity to contour your entire body," she was joking — but also making a point.
Chloe Morello shared a mock five-minute body contouring tutorial last week that used “everyday” materials like on-hand makeup artists and $5,000 worth of bronzer (“that’s per application, by the way”) to achieve a perfectly toned and tan physique in just two hours. The final look features washboard abs, shimmering cleavage and a perfectly perky behind.
Parody aside, the message behind it is real: that images we see on social media aren’t always as they seem, and can create unrealistic expectations for what women “should” look like.
“I saw a video on Instagram of a girl contouring the back of her neck, and then the following week a video of a girl contouring her legs in a mini skirt,” Morello told TODAY via email. “I was impressed by the effect, but couldn’t stop giggling
“It made me want to try contouring my whole body just for the fun of it. I thought it would be hilarious to do it in a YouTube video and poke fun at my own channel and fellow bloggers.”
Morello’s video garnered 1 million views within a week and even inspired several impassioned response videos. While most people — particularly Morello’s own subscribers — got the joke, other responses highlighted the body-shaming and often sexist attitudes that inspired Morello’s statement in the first place.
“The comments from some of the guys were very expected: 'This is why you take her swimming on the first date.' Like we haven't heard that before,” she said. “Many people complimented me, but I was shocked to receive a few 'she's fat' comments! I'm definitely happy with my body and hoped the sarcasm in my video would show people that it’s a trend I find ridiculous and unnecessary.”
Other commenters wrote that they found Morello, whose channel centers on beauty products and tutorials, hypocritical.
“I didn't want to shame anyone that wants to body contour. It definitely has a place in photo shoots, and maybe even special occasions,” she explained, adding that she contours her face in most videos. “But just the thought of applying makeup so heavily all over your body... the time it'd take, and impracticality of it. It rubs off on clothes and furniture and wears off if you sweat or as you walk.”
Morello also questions the idea of using cosmetics as a stand-in for healthy lifestyle choices. “I guess its a no-brainer, to me, to use makeup to enhance my facial features, but healthy eating and exercise to enhance my body and keep me healthy,” she said.
Overall, Morello’s experiment wound up being less a call to action than a call for heightened awareness. “I think the community online is generally pretty positive. I love following fitness bloggers who promote healthy eating and exercise … I think makeup bloggers like myself should maybe stay out of it,” she says of the rampant “fitspo” images online.
And from now on, Morello said she'll think twice about how she chooses to present her messages. "I've definitely learned that I will need to put a disclaimer in the beginning of my videos for those who don't speak sarcasm,” she said. “I hope I didn't make anyone feel self-conscious or like they need to contour!"