Okay, so I’ve been emailed many times now by an agency asking me to use a certain product over a period of time and then do a ‘big reveal’ of myself (or a case-study) in my bikini on National Bikini Day in Covent Garden. National Bikini Day? Hello? National Blood Donation Day, National Breast Cancer Awareness Day, National No Smoking Day… hell, yes! To all of those. But, National Bikini Day. I think not.
I’ve said no to this with no fuss several times but they just won’t leave it alone. The premise is that the campaign will help women feel more confident about their bodies. How, exactly? How does using a body cream and then getting down to your undies in public so that a brand can flash it all over the internet help a woman’s confidence. Either you are confident in your body to do something like this or you are not and a body cream isn’t going to change it either way.
Thinking about if a lad’s mag asked women to pitch up in their bikinis so they could be photographed (and all the while documenting it pictorially on your blogs over a period of weeks, so one bikini shot isn’t ‘it’ just in case you wondered) I think we would be thinking very differently on the exact reason for the bikini exposure.
Let’s not confuse body confidence with sensationalism and an easy marketing win. I do wear a bikini on holiday and I wear it with confidence (although I might stop short at a game of beach volley ball in it ;-)) and I don’t much care what anybody thinks about my body. It’s not really anybody’s business but mine and it would be completely wrong for me to participate in a marketing campaign that implies that being seen more or less naked will ‘improve confidence’. I know the state of women’s confidence – it’s a precarious thing that changes almost daily and of ninety-nine compliments and one criticism the thing we remember is the one. I know it and confidence comes from an inner state, not an outer state.
It’s reminding me a lot of the Dove campaign for beautiful armpits. There never was a problem with armpits til they made it one. Same for all the ‘whitening’ products – mild skin pigmentation wasn’t ever really a big issue until a speckled egg told us differently and the only complexion to have now is one bare of any irregularities. How boring.
The beauty industry really needs to watch how it flogs its wares right now. We all know it’s a smoke and mirrors game, but it’s one we quite gladly play because there is such pleasure to be had from beauty products. But make it an unpleasant, confidence sapping experience and those scales will tip.
And, I will just add in that I am very well aware that Marketing Departments (who hold the budget strings) who have one remit only come up with or sanction this kind of campaign which then leaves the PR offices desperately trying to pick up the pieces when it all goes horribly wrong.
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