Shame we can’t all get along!

How-to-get-a-beach-body-Take-your-bodyIt seems body image and being proud of what we have is the theme for the week.  #PlusSizeWars? #WeAreThey? #ProteinWorld? It is an interesting concept and has me thinking about where I am and where I have been.  Am I a sell out for wanting to change my body?  If I had the confidence as a young woman that I do following the massive amount of plastic surgery I have had would my life have been different?  So many questions that I don’t know the answers to…

But, you have to give Fiona Longmuir and Tara Castello a super shout out on behalf of women everywhere for standing up to the established beauty myth that is perpetrated on us every summer around what makes us as women “beach ready”.  The Protein World ad is not unlike every other campaign that gives us that extra shot of insecurity that we didn’t ask for, nor need to further push us into buying into a product or service that will make us “perfect”.

This is where I have to declare a conflict of interest. Because as much as I would like to say “down with the beauty myth!” “We are all beautiful” and the like I have spent much of the last few years exploring every last flaw that exists on my body and researching ways to “fix” it.   Where does that leave me in this argument?  I firmly believe that nobody should be ashamed of their body.  In the summer we should all feel like we can throw on a fabulous swim suit and hit the beach at any size or shape.  But, have I ever worn a swim suit in public?  That would be a big fat NO! Pardon the pun.  It may have been a lack of body positive role models or just my being locked in my own prison of body shame.  But, I still struggle with the concept of being happy with my body.

I find myself in a difficult position with this issue.  I think there is a line that needs to be drawn here.  This ad is clearly selling products for weight loss and there is nothing wrong with that.  Obesity is an extremely complex issue and this particular campaign is not going to change that.  My feeling around the issue as someone who was on the super obese spectrum is that the messages I received around body image told me that I was doomed and would never be able to achieve anything unless I fit literally and figuratively into a particular body shape. As an adult woman with decades of life experience behind me I am just about strong enough to deal with this.  However, there are millions of young girls and women who are growing up believing they can’t achieve their full potential because they don’t fit the “cookie cutter” image that as women we have been socialised to believe makes us successful.  The profoundly sad thing is, they are probably correct.
I write this not as an anonymous pundit seeking to cast judgement on a misogynist society.  But, as a highly educated woman who continues to experience first hand the advantages and disadvantage being a member of each of these camps bring.  I wish I could say that being proud of my body was enough.  That loving yourself will make the world love you back.  But, I can’t because the very sad truth is, this world will not reward you for your brain, your ability to write a beautiful story or even having the skills to save a life.  The thing that has made me successful in my current endeavour and made people want to hear me is all of the superficiality that we find so distasteful in this argument.  Do I think this is right? Of course not.  But, have I benefited from moving closer to what society expects women to look like?  Yes.
Obesity in itself is a very serious problem and in the same way nobody should be shamed into self hatred about not having that “perfect” body, neither should we shame those amongst us that have, through very hard work managed to create a female form that fits the #Protein World mould.  I find it increasingly sad that the original message of female empowerment is being lost.  If we are ever to make progress in this area we need to stop the in fighting about it being us versus them.  I have reached a point of saturation today where I have began to feel that rather than witnessing a testament to sisterhood it is turning into a pissing contest between Barbie and Midge.  However, my message remains the same.  Body shaming in any form is not acceptable, no matter which side of the coin you landed on.

**Image Courtesy of Fiona Longmuir and Tara Castello

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