So…I did something empowering at work this week.
So often we have little control over the messages that bombard us around the perfect body shape, diet culture, and fat shaming.
All we can do is work on our own self-esteem and ways of perceiving the world to make ourselves more resilient against those messages.
Sometimes we can feel despondent just with the sheer volume of messages that come at us. How can we, as individuals, possibly make a dent in the onslaught of so many negative messages?
One negative message is all it can take to turn a body-positive teenager into someone who starts to doubt their body, or to turn someone who already hates their body into a spiral of self-harm? What if you could have enough of an impact to prevent that negative message from being out there to do that harm?
When I was coming out of the work toilets the other day I saw a poster advertising an exercise class. It said “Summer is just around the corner so come to legs, bums and tums”.
Ok, so what is that saying to me? It’s saying that my body isn’t good enough for summer clothes and swim wear. It’s saying that, since it doesn’t know what I look like, presumably no one’s body is good enough. That we must all go through some regime to be worthy of summer and not hide away, ashamed.
Remember the “are you beach body ready?” ads that caused so much kerfuffle?! Ok, so the posters at work didn’t have a half naked woman on them, but the message is the same. And my argument back is the same: all bodies are ready just as they are, whether it be beach, summer, naked…any situation.
I thought about not bothering about it – what difference could one person make by taking it further? But then I realised that if I didn’t write in then it would definitely not make a difference. And we’re worth more than that – we deserve to be stood up for! So I wrote in. I explained how it was irresponsible and the effects this could have on women. And if felt good. Will it make a difference? I hope so. I hope next time they’ll think differently about their advertising. I hope it will change the thought patterns of the person who designed the slogan. I hope that as I raise the issue with other people in the department it will help them question the message it’s sending them and prevent the harmful effects.
What if every time we saw something that sent the wrong message we questioned it and complained about it? We may only be one person, but if we all made a pledge to take 2 minutes to complain, then we would be a powerful force. And tackling the smaller instances (such as in the work place) can still improve people’s every day environments – the environments that make the most impact on people’s lives.
For anyone who spots an advert that they feel is inappropriate, here is the Advertising Standards Agency complaints page – you could make a difference in just a couple of minutes.
What adverts make your blood boil?