Erica Schenk vs Ymre Stiekema

Image source: Facebook

Two images have dominated my social media timelines for the past few weeks. Both feature female runners and have sparked a huge amount of controversy and debate. 

Plus-size model Erica Schenk appeared on the cover of the August edition of Women’s Running magazine, shattering stereotypes of what a runner ‘should’ look like. Since the cover previewed, there has been a huge outpouring of support from female runners who can relate to the inspiring and empowering image. 

The magazine cover has also attracted criticism, with claims that Erica cannot be possibly be both fit, healthy and overweight. Do images like this normalize obesity? Should a running magazine feature a plus-sized model? 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Ymre Stiekema was photographed for Vogue Netherlands whilst running in a bikini and pushing a Bugaboo pram. The image has attracted a lot of backlash, slating the campaign as ridiculous and offensive to mothers. It has been claimed that it sets unrealistic expectations and puts pressure on mums to look perfectly lean and toned so soon after giving birth. 

Other comments defend Ymre’s lean physique and praise her for staying fit and healthy as a new mother. Perhaps the negative comments are fueled by jealousy? 

In my opinion, both women look strong, fit and healthy. I love both images as they represent the diversity of the sport and promote running as an activity for all sizes and shapes. Running doesn’t come with a size requirement, I believe we should be proud of what our bodies can achieve regardless of size and weight. 

I was interested to read that both models are keen runners, as opposed to just ‘playing the part’ for the camera. Erica states that she runs a few times a week, mostly to clear her head and focus her mind. She also takes part in group bootcamp classes and volleyball. Whilst Ymre describes herself as an avid runner and lives with her personal trainer partner. She is indeed also a mother to two year old Lymée.

Are the images realistic? Obviously we have to remember that these are part of an advertising campaign and the models have been styled to sell a product. Neither model seems to be breaking a sweat or have a hair out of place! Of course, most people wouldn’t chose to run in a bikini! 

What’s your opinion on Erica and Ymre? Do you find the images empowering or offensive?


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