Spain Says 'All Bodies Are Beach Bodies' And Women Are Loving It

"All bodies are valid and we have the right to enjoy life as we are, without guilt or shame."
Spain is promoting body inclusivity
: Spanish Equality Ministry
Spain is promoting body inclusivity

“Summer is ours too,” says Spain’s equality ministry, launching a creative summer campaign which aims to encourage all women to go to the beach.

The promotional photo showcases five women with different body types, ages and ethnicities having fun on the coast. The oh-so-jolly image also features a topless woman who has had a mastectomy.

“All bodies are beach bodies,” Ione Belarra, the minister for social rights in Spain’s Socialist-led Podemos party, said. “All bodies are valid and we have the right to enjoy life as we are, without guilt or shame. Summer is for everyone!”

And people online are absolutely loving it.

Some have asked if there are going to be images that promote body inclusivity for men, too.

And Nyome Nicholas-Williams, known as Curvy Nyome on Instagram, has claimed the Spanish government used her image in the campaign without asking for her permission fist.

“Great idea but poor execution!” she on Instagram. “This is now the second time this has happened to me! It happened in 2020 when an illustrator used my likeness to sell products. The thing is I’d never say no if it’s for a good cause but come on, ask for my permission. This is so frustrating!”

Though the campaign image appears as an illustration, the model has pointed out it bears a striking resemblance to a photo she posted in May.

Nicholas-Williams told that some family members even recognised her from the illustration and congratulated her for the campaign.

The artist who created the illustration, Arte Mapache, has since tweeted a public apology for using the images and a typeface she thought was free.

“After the justified controversy surrounding the image rights of the illustration, I have considered that the best way to alleviate the damage that may have arisen from my conduct is to distribute the benefits derived from this work in equal parts between the protagonists of the poster and buying the typography license,” she said.

HuffPost UK has also contacted Spain’s Ministry of Equality for comment.

Despite the controversy, the reaction to the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive.

A number of people have pointed out the stark difference between Spain’s campaign and the controversial Protein World advert that featured across the London Underground network in 2015.

The now notorious advertisement promoted weight loss aids and featured bikini-clad Australian model Renee Sommerfield asking onlookers whether they are “beach body ready”. Nearly 400 people complained to ASA.

The Advertising Standards Authority actually ruled that the ad was “inoffensive,” meaning it wasn’t initially banned. But Mayor of London Sadiq Khan soon made a stand, saying Transport for London would “not allow ads which could reasonably be seen as likely to cause pressure to conform to an unrealistic or unhealthy body shape, or as likely to create body confidence issues”.

Even though it’s encouraging to see how Spain is championing all women’s bodies, there is still a deeply rooted notion that people have to change their bodies in order to be “ready” for summer – and it stems from fatphobia.

“Advertisers don’t always realise the impact that terms like ‘summer body’ have on people who live in bodies that don’t fit the ‘societal norm,’” Gianluca Russo, a fashion and culture writer and co-founder of The Power of Plus, a size-inclusive digital community, previously told HuffPost.

Additionally, the entire notion of a “summer body” suggests that people need to change their bodies in order to be ready for the season, which can be triggering for anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder or compulsive exercise.

So, how can we prepare for the summer if we aren’t body confident?

Cleanse your social media feed. Instagram can be a powerful tool for body positivity and acceptance.

Stock up your follow list with accounts that make you feel empowered and accepted, along with the celebrities who inspire you to live authentically and unapologetically. And if there’s an account that’s making you feel bad about yourself? Hit that unfollow button and don’t look back.

There is a strong link between exercise compulsion and eating disorders — a connection that begins at a young age, according to the eating disorders charity NEDA. One study showed that around 68% of teenage girls and 51% of teenage boys exercise with the goal of losing weight or to avoid gaining weight.

“This idea that one needs to change the way that they move or eat in preparation for summer is just unrealistic. It is important to find a way to move our bodies that brings us joy and to which we look forward,” Elisha Contner Wilkins, the executive director at Veritas Collaborative, a national eating disorder recovery centre, said.

With that, ask yourself what you enjoy doing. What activities bring you happiness?

“It’s important to question this because we spend so much time absorbing information about how our bodies are ‘supposed’ to look or what we’re ‘supposed’ to eat, and we lose touch with what we actually want and what we desire,” Milwaukee-based personal trainer Chrissy King previously told HuffPost.

Congrats to Spain for a brilliant campaign. Now, can we have one here?