The recent furore (can I say furore?) about a certain poster campaign has irritated me. Not as much as the hostile ‘get-a-life’ Twitter response from the brand’s marketing manager, of course, but that’s another story.
For anyone who may not have seen it – and I’m not going to name the brand – the poster asks Are you Beach Body Ready? and features a picture of a bronzed and sculpted woman, adopting a sexually aggressive pose in a bikini made out of what seems to be leftover dolls’ house bunting.
Yes of course we should protest at this awful objectification, but what also angers me is the argument that runs alongside – and so often comes from the mouths of men. In my view, the: “This sort of thing makes women feel bad about their own less-than-perfect bodies” argument is mostly bogus. Of course I accept that there are women who are vulnerable and therefore more susceptible to this sort of imagery, but to assume all of us feel this way is just plain wrong. This argument insults our intelligence and carries the opposite implication: that we should indeed feel bad about our ‘less-than-perfect’ bodies.
Anorexia and self-harm is on the rise: so is childhood obesity and depression. Our teenage children – especially girls – seem to be more insecure than ever. Do we really, truly think that this is because they’re incapable of telling that the whole brand-marketing circus is air-brushed, photoshopped hokum?
The reasons for our unhappy, over made-up young women are so much more complex. We need to look deeper into our society – into ourselves – to analyse the pressures we put girls under and the myriad ways we undermine their confidence and self-belief. Telling women that “it’s OK not to be perfect” is part of all that. Allowing the promotion of powdered protein drinks for them to ingest instead of food is part of it too.
‘Body confidence’ isn’t about being resigned to the fact you’re not ‘perfect’ and still bravely getting on with things. It’s about being happy, healthy, fulfilled and centred: knowing you have a purpose, a future and hope. That should be the ideal that our beautiful young women aim for and we should help them attain it in every way we can.