I’m really late to the whole Protein World/Beach Body Ready hoo-ha, but if you’re like me and haven’t caught up, here it is in a nutshell. Protein World are displaying poster ads of a woman wearing a yellow bikini to promote weight loss products in order that you can be ‘beach body ready’. There’s been a backlash from thousands, complaints to the ASA and demonstrations because it’s felt that it promotes an unhealthy body image. You must judge for yourself whether it’s an unhealthy body image. What’s unhealthy is to suggest that it should be everyone’s body ideal.
In beauty world, a press release that encourages us to ‘get beach body ready’ is absolutely commonplace. It can cover off anything from self tan and cellulite creams to nail polish and body lotion. Rarely, although not unheard of, do these releases mention weight. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to present your best body on the beach – it’s hard enough stripping down to what is essentially your bra and pants, and if you feel that body lotion is going to help you do that, then great – most of us need a little confidence prop up where the beach is concerned. But, despite being respectful of size, at this end, there’s a great deal of pressure to promote a ‘beach ready body’ in the form of product placement that might encourage readers to think that their bodies aren’t okay without being buffed and slathered in creams.
As a blogger, you walk a very fine line between being part of the ideal body movement and holding on to reality by using your words to express that the world won’t end if you aren’t moisturised enough. Hydrators, tans, exfoliators, lipstick, SPF, shampoo – you name it – none of these are weight or size relevant and yet somehow there’s a hidden message that everything looks better if you’re thinner. The bottom line on this blog is that your size is your business, not mine. The issue with Protein World’s ads is that they make size everyone’s business by displaying a body ideal on massive billboards that really won’t work for most of us, alongside slimming products. It’s not really even about attainability – it’s more about an assumption of beauty. There’s no crime in working for a body shape of your choosing, enjoying the gym and working out, or following healthy eating programmes – but if you’re doing it because your perception of an ‘ideal body’ comes from billboards or magazine pages, then you may find that no amount of slimming products and weight training is going to help with that.
If I have learned anything from seven years of blogging, it’s that beauty comes in phases; what strikes you as beautiful today may not strike you as beautiful tomorrow. That you will go through many phases of beauty in your life, including size variations, very likely, and they’re yours to hold onto and do what you want with them. But one is not better than another – it’s just different. So, respect and value whatever phase you’re in; pay no attention to the phases of others, such as Protein World, and just enjoy all the aspects of your beauty phase as it is now.
The further aspects of the feather ruffling, such as the ungracious tweets from the brand owner, are best left in the ether – respect and manners, apparently, don’t come in a tub from Protein World.
NB: I’m not using any imagery on this post; nobody needs to see it all over again.
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Loved this post!!! Zoe Newlove Beauty Blogger & MUA
On the same tack – Wilkinson Sword have an ad which also uses the phrase ‘beach body ready’. An impromptu invitation to jump in the pool causes our model to pause and check ‘mentally’ that she is ‘beach body ready down there’ – coyly looking down! So of course she neatly strips off & joins the fun. Not sure which ad is worse.
It was quite late in the evening – nearly choked on my wine!
i saw a reply somewhere in the world of internet that it was: how to be beach body ready?
get your body to the beach 😛
I find the behaviour from Protein World amusing to be honest. Yeah it’s offensive but my god, people love to be offended these days and many people just need telling to STFU and take a seat. What it did do though was create a load of PR for the brand (all publicity is good publicity) and generate a lot of sales.
I saw these posters last Friday and on Saturday morning placed an £86 order from the brand (to be fair, I knew about the brand, use a lot of sports supplements and had been thinking about them for a while).
However (here we go) it seems that displaying photos of a healthy, young woman in her natural albeit well exercised shape is offensive to arm chair bandits who between bites of Mars Bar and a can of Diet Coke refer to it as ‘fat shaming’.
So what body image is acceptable for use on a fitness poster? I sure wouldn’t buy a fitness product featuring a morbidly obese… sorry… curvy and plus-sized model. I’m not saying it’s unacceptable to be those things, who am I to judge anyone (although the detriment to ones health is unimaginable) but it’s like displaying cats on a poster for Pedigree Chum.
This image from Bulk Powders that featured on every single central tube line didn’t spark such controversy? Why? Because even though this is often unrealistic for most men (although achievable) it’s still aspirational. We want to be inspired!
This will all blow over I’m sure, but this increasing rhetoric of ‘fat shaming’, when in the UK heart disease and obesity are bigger killers than cancer, is very, very worrying.
MANFACE // Expert Male Grooming Tips + Men’s Beauty Blog
Oh, yes, of course. Anyone who objects must be lazy and unhealthy and also very fat because being fat makes you a bad person who’s also lazy and unhealthy. No problem with that logic.
But you’re just concerned about people’s help, not shaming them. Which is why you called plus size models obese and implied that this made them ugly. Have you actually looked at a plus size model or checked out what size they are? Obese is not the word I would use, but then I’m a size 16/18 so to you I must be disgusting.
This is the first time I’ve read about this ad, but if you’re the voice of people who are pro this ad campaign then I can see why other people are getting upset.
I couldn’t agree more with you here!! I do not find the poster offensive at all, the woman is a healthy fitness model, this isn’t body shaming anyone. My impression is that the poster is trying to promote a healthier lifestyle with the aid of sport supplements. I do not understand the backlash of abuse from people about these posters!xx
Not to mention that skinny does not equal pretty nor healthy for that matter. Fact is that you have very healthy people which are a bit chubby and people which live of fast food which are super thin. I know quite some people which are super skinny and are still no magnets to the opposite sex.
Beauty is made out of so many factors and just because weight is perceived as one of the factors we can to some degree control, there is an enormous focus on it. I was a skinny weird teenager and while i have now a few pounds to much i consider myself by now better looking than then. This has little to nothing to do with my weight but simply that my face grew to fit my nose ;).
I also hate that the discussion seems to often get dragged into a world where we are all either perfect weight and shape or morbidly obese. Most of the population does not fall into either of this extremes but somewhere in between. A few kilos to much does not kill anyone and being skinny does not mean you will become a hundred years old. So within certain boundaries, it comes down to personal taste and i wish it could remain that.
Some people love super strong eyeliner and bright red lips, other people prefer nude colours. When we do not hate on this matter of taste in the beauty world then maybe we can also stop hating on a matter of taste when it comes to weight.
Respect and value your body is doing whatever is healthy for your body and your mental wellbeing! If that means reaching for a self tanner to boost your confidence, that’s fine by me. I definitely appreciate that beauty bloggers have a unique place in all this.
Erin | Erin and Katherine Talk Beauty
Wise words Jane. Will I ever look like the model on the poster? No. But I’m not offended by it either. Bodies come in all shapes & sizes. End of
I must confess that when I saw the teaser for this post on Bloglovin I was “this” close to skip it. Now I am happy I didn’t.
For many years now I have not had a “beach ready body” in any of its marketing incarnations. And yes, it is a struggle between accepting your body type, being healthy and loosing any weight that hinders you and not bowing to external pressure. The constant reminder by all kind of promotional images can really do a number on your self-esteem. Many times it is not about celebrating beautiful individuals but pointing fingers to those who escape the narrow confines of beauty.
The paragraph that resonated the most with me is the one about the cyclical or transient nature of beauty and beauty ideals. Funny as that is exactly the idea I had for the name of my blog. I agree completely that bowing to fads and struggling and suffering to fit into them is a sure recipe for frustration and being upset. However, is the time of a more realistic beauty ever going to come?
I think most of the offense comes from the fact that this advert doesn’t even pretend that it isn’t shaming women in order to sell. If it showed a healthy woman having fun at the beach, I don’t think this advert would have caused any problems at all. Instead, they noticeably chose to show a sultry model pouting with her chest pushed out and her legs spread.
I hate the advert, but wouldn’t object to it if it was being kept to magazines. At least when picking up a glossy magazine, women know what they’re getting themselves into. Whereas I don’t think we need this injected into a woman’s every day life.
How to get beach body ready….choose a lovely sunny day; put on your swimwear; go to the beach; take off your clothes and put on some sun protection then paddle in the sea; have a picnic on the beach; relax with a book; enjoy a barbie with your friends……just enjoy yourself in your imperfect body with its dimples and marks and scars and hairy areas and RELAX! Enjoy your day at the beach and just don’t worry about your imperfections etc etc because a glorious day at the beach EVEN with an un-beach ready body is magic and fun and special
I like this, the perfect recipe for a day at the beach…just wish more people felt less stigmatised for not fitting into the body “ideal. “
It’s not so much the beautiful (probably photoshopped) body that worries me so much as the stuff being advertised. If you want to lose some weight and feel fitter you can do this simply by the food you choose (or don’t choose). You simply don’t NEED expensive ‘supplements’ to get you thin. Lots of vegetables, some fish, chicken, fruit, good fat and whole grains in moderation, plus good brisk walks, will do the trick. This stuff is simply a way of parting mugs from their money.
I’m not offended by it but I do get annoyed when people jump up and down on their political correctness bandwagon. Take Abercrombie & Fitch the only reason I ever went into one of their stores is to drool over those half naked men, never in a million years would I get a single boob in one of their tshirts but I’m not ashamed of that, I’ve got what Mother Nature gifted me and I have to work with it. Sadly now it seems A&F are ditching the models. Same goes for this protein powder, I’m not going to ever have a body like that even if I strapped an IV to my arm and lived on the stuff, but she does look good and I’m neither jealous nor envy of her figure and nor would I swap mine for hers.
Really liked your post and agreed with you. As for those disagreeing think about the young women seeing the “beach ready ” model and how they would feel, remember how it felt to be 17/18 and full of insecurities. Don’t only think of how YOU feel about the poster.