Sammy Nickalls
April 29, 2016 4:00 am
YouTube / Naked Labs

It’s 2016, and we have more fitness tech than ever to help us reach our goals. Although health and fitness are both incredibly important, some experts think one company has perhaps taken fitness tech *too* far with their “fitness-tracking mirror” that tracks your weight and body fat.

The Naked 3D Fitness Tracker from Naked Labs combines a mirror and a scale to scan your body and determine your body’s fat and muscle data. When you stand on the scale, the mirror reads your body composition and sends the results in the Naked Fit app. “Naked may look like a mirror at first glance, but it’s not like any mirror I’ve ever seen,” a woman’s voice says in a YouTube ad. “When I look into other mirrors, all I see is a reflection. I see today. But the truth is so much more than that.”

Naked depicts their $499 mirror as motivational because of its concentration on improving strength, physique, and the “true self” — all of which are not necessarily external. A woman says in their commercial:

However, to assume that our bodies are a reflection of our choices, is a damaging premise — especially when you consider medications and health conditions that can change our weight and shape, such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, or depression. But even ignoring that fundamental flaw, will tracking data like this via a mirror really put you on the journey to “become [your] best self”?

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According to Farhad Farabakhsian, co-founder and CEO of Naked Labs, the Naked mirror gives consumers control of their emotions and allows them to look at their body logically. “A lot of the time, when we look in the mirror, we have trouble seeing ourselves objectively; what we experience is filtered by our emotions,” he told HelloGiggles in an e-mail interview. “Unlike a regular mirror, Naked actually gives you an objective view of you body. It gives you real data about how your body is changing to help you take control.”

Another benefit of the fitness-tracking mirror, Farabakhsian said, is that it helps keep you motivated at the beginning of a new health journey, when you may not be noticing your body changing just yet. “What we’ve also seen with our beta users is that when they initially start a regimen, their physical progress is not always apparent,” he told us. “Naked ensures that you understand how different decisions regarding diet and exercise affect your body, helping your stay motivated and on track.”

That said, experts are less concerned with the mirror’s physical effects and more concerned with the mental. “[The mirror] needs reworking, because most studies indicate that the more we focus on shaming, blaming, and telling ourselves we are not OK, the more we become anxious and depressed,” said Adrienne Ressler, LMSW, CEDS, vice president of professional development for residential eating disorder facility The Renfrew Center Foundation. “That’s what this product is all about. . . [it] definitely will not make its users feel better about themselves.”

The Naked mirror is able to provide time lapse results — over the course of months, weeks, days, or even one single day, pushing the need to look into the future toward the body you want. However, that’s not always the best perspective for people who lack a healthy self-image in the first place. “Being in the moment, being mindful of the ‘here and now’ is one of the healthiest behaviors that humans could ever cultivate,” Ressler told HelloGiggles. “Being bombarded with [these messages] leads to never being satisfied — believing you should or could have done more, better, faster.”

Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, added that the Naked mirror shifts the lens from health and wellness to appearance — a slippery slope, especially when every individual body is different. “[W]hen someone starts to believe that their self worth is based solely upon their physical appearance, weight, shape and size take on a whole new meaning,” Mysko explained to HelloGiggles.

The premise of the Naked mirror, she highlighted, is to give a daily dose of feedback that is rooted in a dangerous message: that your value is in the numbers. “Our bodies are constantly changing, weight naturally fluctuates and BMI is essentially meaningless,” Mysko said. “So, a mirror that tracks and reports on our outward appearance can’t really tell us anything about our health and, can in fact lead us down a road of misguided weight-loss attempts and disordered eating.”

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Farabakhsian, however, said the point of mirror is tracking progress. “We want you to feel comfortable in your own skin and proud of what your body can do — every body, no matter how fit or out of shape, is capable of amazing things,” he told HelloGiggles. “Naked is designed to motivate you to accomplish those amazing things by showing you your progress faster than a mirror or the scale. Seeing those first signs of progress will make someone embarking on a new fitness journey feel amazing.”

While some may find the “just keep going” theme of the Naked 3D Fitness Tracker to be motivational, it can also encourage obsession, says Patricia Farrell, a licensed psychologist, WebMD consultant, and author of How To Be Your Own Therapist. “One more sit-up, one more run, one more what? You can’t win with this type of approach,” Farrell told HelloGiggles, adding that she thinks this way of thinking “not psychologically helpful.” She continued, “I can only see it as a means of self-punishment for, potentially, impossible goals.”

The bottom line? Being your “best self” does not equate to having a six-pack, and fitness isn’t about how you look — it’s about how you feel. Having a passion for fitness is great, but to concentrate on only your physical appearance is to completely ignore your mental health — an incredibly important aspect of wellness. Go on a run if your heart desires, but don’t let a fitness-tracking mirror judge your beautiful, strong body.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, call the number for the National Eating Disorders Helpline at 800-931-2237.

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