The UK got into a bit of a tizz about an advertising campaign which ran posters in the London Underground lately. I think they might all be gone now – I don’t live in London – but basically, the consisted of a bikini clad model and an implication that you needed to have an acceptable body to be beach ready.
This is drivel of course, but it caused much debate, many columns on websites because of course, people just want to voice their opinion on stuff, and decry other people getting professionally insulted and all sorts of related good clickbait like that.
I found it depressing. I have been known to spend a significant amount of time on the beach and for my purposes, bikinis have been less than suitable.
1) if you are carrying 24kg of camera equipment, the camera bag will wind up strafing at some point. It also rubs off sun protection cream which means your black Lowe Alpine camera bag does not get sunburnt, but you do, and what’s more, at those points which the camera bag will strafe. Hurty Hurty Hurt.
2) if you are going in the water taking photographs, it gets cold, no matter how sunny. Let me tell you, being cold and sunburned at the same time is a bad thing.
3) Putting on sun cream is horribly messy; invariably you miss bits and invariably you wind up sunburned. My personal preference is to cover up.
4) if you have decent breasts at all – by which I mean more noticeable than the sound of a feather falling in the night – bikinis are low on support.
So if being beach ready bodywise means being able to wear a little yellow bikini, the likelihood is that I will never find one that I feel comfortable in even if I was several sizes smaller because the whole breast thing, you see, and in any case, being beach body ready, in my case, means covering up completely so as to avoid getting sunburned.
In the meantime, the company concerned flog a meal replacement shake thing. I’ve never understood the attraction of them and I’ve never been convinced that they are a healthy option compared to eating a balanced food diet but that’s by way of a diversion. Ultimately, companies which flog things to make you want to change the way you look operate on reducing your self esteem and arguably, that’s what this does. In my view, attacking people’s self esteem is a healthy activity either but your mileage may variable. The issue I had with the discussions is they got down to a “we should be allowed to attack people’s self esteem to make them lose weight because being obese is not healthy”. Which leads me to think that a lot of people who post opinions below the line of major UK newspapers didn’t spend enough time in school. Attacking people in this way does not work for everyone, probably doesn’t even work for many of them at all.
Then there was the argument on whether the model looked healthy or not. I am not willing to make a call on that either. And then there was the argument about feminists and how stupid they were which seems to crop up on a regular basis. Naturally it was noted that the only people who were outraged by this were people a) who wouldn’t use the product and b) who weren’t beach body ready.
In many respects, it was all very dreary. I couldn’t even get behind the anti-campaigns, of people standing next to the poster who very clearly hadn’t been Photoshopped and weren’t a size 0 or whatever. Or the ones who voiced the view that “How to be beach body ready: go to a beach”
Mostly that’s because a) I wouldn’t use the product anyway: if you want liquid food, use fruit, a hand blender and some yogurt. Throw in some nuts if that’s what grabs you. b) I don’t wear a bikini because they’re not really designed for women with breasts per se and c) even if I did, I couldn’t because I am extremely fair and the safest occasion on which I can prance around half naked tends to involve 100% cloud cover and driving rain. Which doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to be honest, when you think about it.
If I wanted to point one thing out about the whole beach body and bikini thing it would be this: in terms of avoiding sunburn, it is nowhere near as safe as simply covering up. And if you’re going to be covering up anyway, is there any need to half starve yourself by using meal replacement drinks in a mad bid to lose a lot of weight in a short space of time?