It’s that time of the year. The weather is slowly getting better, birds are chirping and oh oh, the bikini commercials are in the printing presses, ready for distribution. The annual tradition of comparing yourself to the slim, tanned, seemingly accomplished women on the billboards is as present and annoying as the too early sale of eastern candy. Only that this tradition doesn’t involve chocolate. We present to you; 5 ways of keeping your self-esteem (and mental sanity) when the advertising world just becomes too much to handle.
1. Remember that every body is a beach body.
The infamous commercial for protein powder that would supposedly make your body “beach body ready” received enormous criticism and contributed to the birth of the hashtag “#everybodysready”. In fact, there’s an entire segment of the internet whose only concern is body positivism. If you need a reality check (because sometimes it’s hard to remind yourself that the unnaturally slim bodies are in fact unnatural), check the hashtag #bodypositive. Just a whole lot of normal people being proud over their highly normal bodies.
2. Being that tanned is simply not realistic if you are a white European, and if this still is your goal you will probably get cancer.
This advice is only valid if you are anything like me, that is the kind of milky transparent white that sort of fries as soon as the sun’s first rays hits your body. H&M ran a very controversial commercial campaign a few years ago, which actually made the Swedish Cancer Foundation lash out. The models featured in the campaign were wearing the latest swimwear, casually hanging on the beach. Nothing strange, except that they were tanned to the point that the Swedish Cancer Foundation claimed that if any white person tried to achieve that kind of bronze they would most likely get cancer. So, before you whip out your tanning lotion to achieve that bronzy look every model magically appears to have, think again. If you find me on campus I’ll share my SPF 50 with you instead.
3. The average American woman actually looks like this.
Size zero? More like size mind your own business and wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. I know that I’m stating the obvious. Most women nowadays feel that all bodies are beautiful (even commercials are starting to get it). But I feel like we need to keep on stating the obvious, for it never to become silenced by the patriarchy again. So this is what the average American woman looks like. And remember that there are amazing bodies with more curves, as well as skinnier chicas on both ends of the spectrum that are equally beautiful. And smart, funny and role-models. I could write a few articles about all the amazing things women are besides beautiful.
Beaches are relaxing. But one thing’s for sure; beaches are not glamourous.
4. Remember for a moment what the beach actually means to normal deadly people.
Remember what a beach actually means? The easy breasy walk on the beach with perfect hair and a glowing skin is simply not cut out for real people. Beaches are sand in your sandwhiches, sticky sun screen that leaves white marks in your face, hair that constantly knots up because of the salty water and too expensive mojitos (and did he even put rum in it?). It’s also about playing volleyball, reading your favourite book or eating icecream for lunch instead of those literally sandy sandwhiches. Beaches are fun. Beaches are relaxing. But one thing’s for sure; beaches are not glamourous.
5. Before you go out, check your privilege. Then check it again.
You know, I shouldn’t complain really. I’m still on top of the reeking privilege pyramid. I’m white, even though I’m a student I can easily afford a bikini I like and even if the models do not look like me, I still feel represented in the media. What is problematic is the group of people who are never seen, never represented and if they are, it’s often in a hyper-sexualised or stereotypical way. We shouldn’t only be talking about the lack of diversity when it comes to size. We should be talking about the lack of a fair representation of African American, Hispanic, Asian and other minority women. We should be upset about the commonly accepted notion that having one or two non-white models is enough to be considered as a “diverse” brand. Your feminism and anger isn’t worth anything if it doesn’t include all of your sisters.
A tiny glossary as a conclusion:
Skinny – or not
Tanned – or not
Big boobs – or not
Body hair – or not
White – or not
Beach Body Ready – definitely
Cover: Wendy Hero