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Bianca Jade's Mission Of Fashionable Fitness

People

Bianca Jade is all about making fitness mainstream via authentic engagement with brands and consumers alike.


"As a lifelong fitness lover, I call myself an everyday athlete," says Jade, who launched her fitness blog, Mizzfit in 2009. "I wanted to go online and see cool solutions to working out and style. I felt there was a lack of online references that showed you can be a total jock and still a girl in heels."

For Jade, one focus of her site was offering women fashionable workout clothes, tips and tutorials, health and wellness news, and fashion trends.

“The catalyst of building my company was that there weren’t a lot of resources online for fitness fashion,” says Jade, who originally set out to launch a clothing line before realizing the enormous white space of information for fashion and fitness-lovers. "At the time there was was no fusion of everyday fashion with fitness. I wanted to go online and see cool solutions to working out and style.”

According to Jade, while blogging wasn't something she thought she would do, she soon realized the enormous potential it had.

“It was 2008, a time when blogging was trending,” says Jade. “I knew I wanted to build a company, but I never thought it would start off with a blog. I thought if I’m going to do a blog I’m going to do it about something I love. So, I bought the domain and wanted to see if I could build the company."

Now the Cornell graduate, who has over 100,000 followers on social media and more than 10,000 visitors to her site a day, also serves as a health and wellness expert, television host and brand spokesperson for fitness brands like ASICS, Champion, Target, New Balance and Microsoft. Jade, who began her career in advertising, cites the shift in consumer advertising spend from traditional to more influencer-focused as a big reason for the success of her blog and partnerships.

“Advertising has changed dramatically in the last five years,” said Jade. “People still love celebrities but there’s a new famous; every day people who share their lives, activities, careers, ambitions, opinions and associations with the world to help guide the decisions of others. It’s more authentic and edgy than your typical celebrity endorsement campaign. Advertising that’s shoved down your throat and sells too hard gets hold. People see through it.”

As far as how she works with brands, Jade says it's organic and authentic. She won't promote any product without first trying and signing off on it.

“These companies are hiring me to make their digital content, to show people how to use the product, to spread the message,” says Jade. “I only work with brands that I’ve discovered on my own first or that come to me with a life changing, positive message that I feel must be shared with my audience. I want people to know that yes, I make a living off these partnerships but first and foremost I care about spreading the message of health and wellness. I only stand behind things that promote women’s overall health.”

Jade adds that as the "social influencer" space continues to get more crowded, remaining a trusted voice for women is her top priority.

"Authenticity is everything these days and that’s how influencers have changed advertising," says Jade. "So now advertising agencies have been hiring influencers for more and more campaigns, and to be honest at some point soon, consumers will become aware of that and see through it as well. I think it’s important to turn down the work that will feel like advertising to your followers. Because otherwise you don’t look credible. I only work with brands that I’ve discovered on my own first or that come to me with a life changing, positive message that I feel must be shared with my audience."

"Advertising that’s shoved down your throat and sells too hard gets old. People see through it.”

Much like other disruptive platforms, the Mizzfit mission is centered on busting stereotypes and looking at women from a wholistic perspective, rather than painting them into corners.

“I wanted to show women that you could inject great fashion, and this style you already have into fitness and sport, to be healthier and to have fun,” says Jade.” I thought if I can fuse fashion, trends, and pop culture into fitness, I feel like I solved a problem."

Soon Jade started blogging about the intersection between fashion and fitness, working with emerging brands (at the time like Lululemon), showing what kinds of workouts you could do in various outfits, and also innovations in clothing technology like moisture wicking fabric.

Today, Jade's business model has evolved to include a quarterly subscription box, which sends out more than $200 worth of workout-related product.

"I was one of the first influencers in the country to have a subscription box, which I partnered with Quarterly co. on over 4 years ago," says Jade, adding that her next box will be available in November. "I call it the Style Up 2 Shape Up box. It’s a fitness fashion box that ships out every 3 months to my subscribers around the world."

"Creating original content for brands, which is authentic, educational, entertaining, is my passion."

“When I started I spent a couple years growing my brand recognition," says Jade. "I would take all these meetings, doing tons of stuff for free just to get my blog name and mission out there. People asked my business plan. I had one but I threw it away, because when I started out I thought I was going to create an a fitness line but then it shifted and I became a mouthpiece for all these sports, wellness and athletic services. People needed someone to tell the message.”

Despite the fact that she plays in the social space, Jade is hesitant to describe herself as a social influencer.

"I am a social influencer in a regard, but I have host training, and advertising marketing background," she said. "I am a one woman advertising and spokeswoman company for some of the largest activewear companies in the world."

Looking to the future, Jade says she will focus on strategic partnerships, and delving deeper into the world of television hosting.

"I've been at it for over nine years, and so I realize there's no sense to do other things," says Jade. "For me digital hosting and creating original content for brands, which is authentic, educational, entertaining, is my passion. I'm not a doctor but I for me spreading news about health, wellness, fitness, and can do it on a huge platform, that’s what I'm moving towards."

Jade's next partnership is with Topricin, a brand of all natural pain relief products.

"For Topricin, I’m really excited to work with fellow influencers Kristin McGee and Nadia Murdock on some cool webisode content about the importance of going all natural when it comes to pain relief in fitness," she says. "There’s a huge problem in our country with the over-prescription of narcotic pain killers and our country alone is using 95% of the narcotic pain killers made in the world! So to be part of a message and movement that encourages people to treat their bodies in a more loving and natural way is important to me. But it all starts with educating people."

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.