Seriously. Stop with these ridiculous photos. You get more exercise by climbing out of bed than lifting those weights.
Seriously - This is quite obviously a photoshoot, not the model’s actual workout session. Do you expect her to be able to pose consistently for hours using a higher weight? While maintaining her hair and makeup? And not damaging the clothes or set?
Low weight dumbbells have a ton of wonderful fitness purposes, and making it possible to pose for a fashion shot is just a perk. Don’t criticize someone else’s workout. just because personally prefer higher weights doesn’t mean that everyone else is obligated to use them.
But what we see in pictures like this plays a big role when women and men are actually going to start workout one day:
When media very often presents these pictures we are also presented a standard and most likely that standard will become our own standard of what is “normal” and “expected”.
There is a reason why women talk about “toning” in stead of “building muscle and burning fat”.
And by seeing these different pictures where many of them show women with small, light and colorful weights people think that’s what women should do when training, lift light with many reps.
While men are presented with pictures of bulging biceps and heavier looking weights(not always as heavy as it looks) - which makes men who have not been training for a long time or are not naturally muscly and strong feel bad about themselves ‘cause they lift lighter weights than what’s expected.
These pictures are problematic, not because there is a problem with people using lighter weights, because everyone starts somewhere and some might not want to build more muscle and strength, but because it sets a standard which beats down people who are not within that standard.
I absolutely agree that there is a gendered problem when it comes to how weight lifting is presented in the media. Women are often told that lifting heavy is a masculine endeavor that they should be afraid of.
Because “Barbie weights” are framed as feminine, they are continuously insulted and demeaned. They are framed as “ridiculous” and not a real workout, like the OP implied. This is also a humongous problem. Using light weights is a valid form of exercise that should not be discredited. For people going through physical therapy, experiencing joint pain, or simply trying to develop safe form for a new exercise, using these light weights is ideal - Their presence isn’t something that a person should be ashamed of.
I think that you framed this discussion wonderfully, though. I completely agree with your standpoint. It’s just important to remember that when we criticize the gendered aspect of such marketing campaigns, we cannot do so while throwing disabled readers under the bus. There’s a way of saying “This trend is sexist and harmful” without saying “Those weights have no use and aren’t really an exercise.”