Inside the Today Show Cozy Cardio Fat-Shaming Controversy

The segment created a stir online

There's a storm of online controversy brewing following a recent Today Show fitness segment. The light-hearted morning news show featured a piece on the "Cozy Cardio" craze which promotes a holistic approach to fitness, emphasizing self-love and acceptance alongside physical activity. The movement's founder, Hope Zuckerbrow, was included in the segment for 22 seconds. Whereas the bulk of the airtime—nearly two minutes—focused on fitness influencer Megan Roup, who is not affiliated with Zuckerbrow's brand.

Since Zuckerbrow is well-known for creating the Cozy Cardio concept, the Today slight is being perceived online as a case of fat-shaming, since Roup is thinner than Zuckerbrow. Fatphobia has long functioned as a gatekeeping mechanism in media; it is entirely possible that weight bias played even an unintentional part in creating the Today Show story.

The way segments are sourced for morning shows may have played a larger role. There are usually two avenues. Someone from Roup's team—likely a publicist—pitched her and the Cozy Cardio angle to promote Roup's Sculpt Society "cozy sculpt" fitness routine.The show liked the pitch and included her as the main person featured because she was the source of the segment idea.

Or, the Today Show saw that the Cozy Cardio movement was gaining popularity and searched for an "expert" through their own connections. Roup could have been selected as that "expert" for a number of justifiable reasons. For example, her home might have been close enough to the studio to send a crew to film there.

Still, harm was done. Zuckerbrow has inspired countless women to embrace positive movement in their lifestyle and the Today segment undermined her message and story. This situation should serve as a reminder to all storytellers to always consider the impact of the narrative and to ensure they accurately represent the voices of those involved.

Charell Star
Charell Star is executive director of Muse by Clio.

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