You've probably seen Protein World's latest ad campaign by now. If you haven't, it's sexist and horrendous. Like many other companies out there, Protein World is attempting to shame women in order to push their product. The image features bold writing asking commuters "ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?" when it might as well say "DO YOU FEEL RUBBISH YET?".
Tuesday evening, I was on my way to work and happened to stumble across one of the billboards. I tweeted my frustration with the advert along with a picture of me flipping it off. "Beach body ready?, do they understand how insulting that is?", I thought to myself. The lovely Fiona, who blogs over at The Escapologist's Daughter, tweeted me saying she agreed and had an idea. The advert made us pretty mad and we decided to challenge everything it was trying to sell by posing next to it in our bikinis. So that's exactly what we did the next day!
Since, the photo has been making it's way around the Twittersphere. Unfortunately with every protest or feminist opinion in general, backlash is to be expected. We've had people question our intentions, troll us on Twitter by saying that WE are the ones promoting an unhealthy lifestyle and even had a blog post dedicated to why what we did was "hypocritical". Trolls don't phase me, in fact they motivate me. However, a few statements have come up more than once so I feel I need to address them. A lot of you seem to be missing the point so I am writing this to help you clarify why we did this.
You could have protested the advert in another way
We could have but I wanted to challenge and protest this advertisement the most effective way I knew how. We wanted to make an impact and both agreed photographs do exactly that. The fact that Protein World has the audacity to suggest that women need modification before visiting the beach makes me livid. We felt this was the best way to really challenge this horrendous advert directly. As there is a woman in a bikini on billboards, what better way to challenge its very premise by standing next to it in our bikinis declaring ourselves already beach body ready.
You're just giving Protein World more publicity plus it's JUST an advert
Well, yeah I guess you're right but that isn't going to stop me. Why should I not challenge something that I, and thousands of others, feel so strongly about? Just because I might give them more publicity? Good, I hope I do then people will boycott and the ASA can ban this dreadful advert.
It isn't just an advert, it's part of a much bigger problem. Every day women are being told they have to look a certain way and match particular beauty standards. They don't have to look far either: television, film, advertisements, social media. There are three of these adverts in one station just seconds away from each other.
It's easy for you to protest, you're not plus size
This is the statement that bugs me the most because you are COMPLETELY missing the point. The entire premise of this advertising campaign is just utterly ridiculous. I am sick and tired of seeing just one body type pushed and sold across advertising campaigns, television and everywhere else. It's not about jealousy either - there's no denying the model on the billboard looks great, she does, but this isn't the only healthy body type out there. And how do you she is healthy anyway? Us women are great and we come in lots of different shapes and sizes so why do we have to look like this woman before being "ready" to hit the beach? I don't look like the girl on the billboard, and nor do I want to, and guess what? I'm still beach body ready!
Just because I am not plus size doesn't mean I don't support bigger women. I am against anything that tells women they need to look a certain way. We did this to stand up for ALL women and to encourage others to do so too. We are always pitted against each other, it's about time we support one another and challenged adverts that try to make us feel bad about ourselves. I want to encourage people into thinking more positively about themselves and that it's okay to challenge what is being sold to you because it's all made up anyway. I try to encourage this often and preach it daily over on my blog for women - Zusterschap.
My body weight doesn't affect my feminist ideals and how I feel about sexism.
You don't speak for all women
I know I don't and I know there a ton of people out there who don't agree with me. That's perfectly fine and I never suggested I spoke for all women anyway. I did this because this advert just really enraged ME but I do feel like I speak for a large portion of women who are tired of sexist advertising campaigns.
This advertising campaign, along with thousands of others, thrive on women's insecurities. I saw somebody wise on Twitter state that there would be no product without it - just let that sink in.