Fitness models are the new booth babes at CES

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CES's booth babes have been replaced by toned fitness models.
CES's booth babes have been replaced by toned fitness models.
Photo: Traci Dauphin / Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac CES 2016 full coverage LAS VEGAS — Booth babes have returned to CES — in the guise of fitness models.

Following complaints the last few years, the giant electronics show here in Vegas had been moving away from scantily clad sirens employed to draw inquisitive eyes to exhibitor booths.

But they’ve been replaced by a new type of eye candy: super-fit women showing off the latest health products or demonstrating fitness gear.


There were quite a lot of fitness models at CES this year wearing sports bras instead of pasties.
There were quite a lot of fitness models at CES this year wearing sports bras instead of pasties.
Photo: Traci Dauphin / Cult of Mac

At CES and other conventions, exhibitors will do anything to attract the attention of the mostly male crowds swarming the show floor. The booth babes of yesteryear — who frequently looked one step away from stripperdom — were an effective tool for capturing the male gaze.

The tactic was also viewed as sexist, crass and desperate, and became an emblem of the tech industry’s lack of gender diversity.

In 2013, CES show management updated its guidelines to discourage scantily-clad booth babes, following widespread publicity of girls wearing just body paint.

The new guidelines asked exhibitors to keep it clean, and put them on notice that they’ll shut down anything that isn’t “properly attired.” Other tech conferences went even further. The annual RSA Conference, an information security event, has banned revealing clothes altogether.

But at CES, skintight lycra and bare midriffs appears to be OK.

“Everyone’s wearing sports bras and tight little shorts, not cocktail dresses,” said Leah Gruber, a professional “trade show model” who works at dozens of events throughout the year. At the Valencell booth, she was running on a treadmill and climbing on big jungle gym to demonstrate the company’s biometric sensing earbuds and fitness trackers.

“There’s definitely a trend at trade shows to move away from booth babes,” she said. “We used to wear heels and platforms at trade shows but we don’t do that anymore and that’s really nice for me.”

Gruber said she’d received a couple of hours training on the company’s products and was happily telling visitors about them, as well as gamely posing for photos.

She has to pose for lots of guys taking photos, she said, and has been subjected to a few offensive, sexist comments.

Another model said she also preferred working in sports gear rather than a miniskirt. In the past, she stood around passively looking pretty, but at CES she was actively demonstrating how the products worked. “I definitely feel its better than just standing around looking pretty,” she said.

There were still plenty of guys taking pictures of the fitness models; plus inappropriate comments.
There were still plenty of guys taking pictures of the fitness models; plus inappropriate comments.
Photo: Traci Dauphin / Cult of Mac

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  • Slurpa Lu

    First of all – trade show models, convention models, hostesses or booth staff – NOT booth babes! Second, stop being a b*tch – like all ugly, frumpy, sour apple women are when they feel threatened. Never have you seen “pasties” at CES. In fact, any attire you’ve seen at CES is usually more than what you’ve seen at a beach, so relax. It’s so typical for women like you to degrade and talk down about other woman for simply making an honest living. These women are college educated, formally trained and representing national & emerging brands to support themselves. Why do you feel the need to slander their roles in this industry and make implied references? Just because they’re HOT, you’ve somehow found a way to turn their jobs into something degrading. If you ask me, the only one undermining and degrading them are people like you! Just because they are not sitting behind a computer all day, doesn’t make their job at CES less important than yours. Anyone can do what you do… buy would anyone hire YOU to be the face of their brand? Hell no! Bottom line, trade show models have been around for decades and are a significant contribution to the local economy each year. What would you rather they be doing??? Would it make you feel better if they were ugly??? Either be respectful or just shut up! I guarantee people care more about them than you… PURPOSE SERVED!

    • Buzz Friendly

      Let the author have FREE speech. Telling someone “be respectful or shut up” only displays your own lack of acceptable social skills. I would much rather read “booth babes” than some mindless rant from a disenfranchised social justice warrior.

      • Slurpa Lu

        But you read it nonetheless, didn’t you? Ha! And took the time to reply, moron. Know this, I say what I want ass wipe and I care nothing about this author’s “free speech”. That isn’t a pass to belittle or talk down about people, unless you expect the same. So you and her can both go play in heavy traffic.

    • BusterH

      I have definitely seen women (booth babes/staff) with pasties on. There have also been booths with naked women in body paint.

    • TJ

      Dear Slurpa Lu:

      Meds are amazing these days, you should get some.

      Sincerely,
      The Internet

      • Slurpa Lu

        You probably sound more clever with your mouth closed. Shut the f-ck up, you walking dildo.

  • JimmyXi

    Give me ‘fitness’ any day. I have exhibited at SURF EXPO in Orlando ..and the available ‘models’ were a sorry, sad lot looking as if they just completed a Undertakers convention atop a late shift a Denny’s. There is nothing more attractive than a fit human ..man or woman.

    Jim