Vancouver, Canada-based actor and elementary school teacher Sean Hunter spoke to Psychology Today about the negative feedback he and his castmates have received since the exercise bike’s commercial aired at the end of November.
“The Gift That Gives Back” ad depicts a fit-looking woman being gifted a Peloton bike by her husband, and continues to show her progress and excitement as she uses the bike day-by-day.
But the video garnered criticism by those who called it sexist and questioned why an already thin woman would receive an exercise bike as a gift, as if to imply that she needed more exercise. The comments were soon directed toward Hunter, who played a rather small, moments-long role in the 30-second ad.
Hunter said even his friends had weighed in on the controversy, with one person even telling him that he had become “a symbol of the patriarchy.”
He feared what would happen to his teaching and acting careers as a result of the public misconception. "I currently sit here hoping that I’ll be able to continue auditioning for commercials without any taint, and that if my students happen to find the commercial and recognize me, they won’t think about me any different than they already know me,” Hunter wrote, according to the article.
After all, this commercial has nothing to do with my ability to teach or who I am.
He wasn’t just concerned about how he was affected, but also the woman cast to play the starring role.
“The aftermath of the commercial has left me with more questions than answers, and this is only half the story. I reflect on what my co-actor must be dealing with, as she’s the other 25 seconds of the story."
A Peloton spokesperson previously told FOX Business the ad was "created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey."
"While we're disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by--and grateful for--the outpouring of support we've received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate."