One thing that I really like about the Goth community as a whole is our diversity in terms of looks and styles, and the fact that Goths of all shapes and sizes can buy clothes that fit them and look good on them as well. Goth is, in that respect, one of the most tolerant and all-encompassing subcultures out there, and being as I am a chunky chick, I have never taken shit, negativity or judgement from the rest of my Goth brothers and sisters.
However, body image is still an issue for people from all walks of life and all shapes and sizes, and we are constantly exposed to a barrage of propaganda in terms of what constitutes an acceptable body every day.
The new Mayor of London (Sadiq Khan) has announced today that advertisements that promote a “negative or unhealthy” body image-which often, comes down to simple fat-shaming-will be banned on the TFL (Transport for London) network from next month.
The image we have to thank for triggering this tidal wave of good sense is this one below-doctored by a commuter who clearly was not drinking the Kool Aid either.
This advert makes me angry on so many levels, and breaking down why this is is something that I think is important.
First of all, the appearance of the woman on the poster is not the norm or an attainable look for most women, added to which it is of course highly likely that it has been photoshopped as well.
Secondly, using what is essentially fat-shaming- “you’ll look gross on the beach if you don’t look like this, buy our shit to achieve it”-to sell whatever bullshit that Protein World stuff is is offensive in and of itself.
Third, are you beach body ready? To be beach body ready, get your body to a beach. End of.
Breaking it down, there is literally no one who can possibly view that advert in the abstract and think yeah, buy that shit, look like that girl, and rock the beach, simple! It smells of bullshit, because it is bullshit.
FUCK RIGHT OFF
However, it is the brazenness of it that offends me the most-it speaks of a wider cultural issue that dictates that the ideal body looks one way, and that it is the only way to look and be acceptable, without offending the eyes of others with your inherent disgustingness.
Additionally, even if you don’t read the text, large images of close up, flawless body perfection, and by implication, feeling that it is the norm, has a much more subtle and wider reaching effect on women that can go on to have consequences such as unhealthy weight loss habits, shame and self-loathing, and never having sex with the lights on.
This billboard may have started the conversation on a wider scale, but really, it has only brought back to the forefront the wider issue when it comes to women and body image, but I still think that this is a good thing.
Young women need to hear other women (and men) say “no, this is not normal, this is not the benchmark, and this is not the only, best, or default way to look.”
FUCK OFF AND DIE
I am in fact really proud of young women today for a lot of reasons, and have seen a major shift in the empowerment of young women in my own lifetime.
Today, women like Tess Munster and a whole range of others are appreciated for who they are and their own unique look, sex appeal and vibe-and nobody gave that to them, they had to go out and take it.
Nobody made a space for women who do not look like traditional models at the table-they stepped up and forced their own niche.
Today, plus size young women who got fucked off with the lack of cool clothing options for those beyond a size 14 gave up on trying to tell mainstream retailers to wise up and take their money; they have gone out instead and started their own labels, blogged about their look and shopping experience, and helped other young women to feel normal, acceptable and proud of who they are.
Banning fat-shaming ads from the TFL network won’t end the issue, which is just too ingrained in our culture as it is-but it’s a good start.