Body Talk – Feminism and Body Image

Feminism moves in mysterious ways, whether through outright activism, education, news articles and the following discussions, or advertising. The latest advert to both play on and question the pressures we put on women comes from Kerry Low Low, marketing a range of low fat spreads and cheeses. Their clever marketing campaign challenges the stereotypical images of women in “adland” who prance around drinking diet yoghurt whilst fighting hunger pangs, all to have that bikini ready body. However, something doesn’t sit quite right; how can a company marketing their low calorie, low fat foods, mock other companies doing that?

Nowhere in Kerry Low Low’s commercial is there a size 14 woman making a balanced and healthy lunch; it is still just an advert of skinny, toned women. Is this actually changing perceptions of food, women and body image, or merely skirting around the issue by pretending to tackle it? Women are constantly plagued with the perfect body image, one that is often impossible to reach thanks to photo editing techniques. So how can we separate ourselves from the images of “desirable” women that the media throws at us?

Notorious (and I’m convinced fake) Daily Mail columnist Samantha Brick wrote last week that being fat “signifies failure” and that any self respecting woman will keep a close eye on her body. In fact, Brick went so far as to insist women diet, admitting she (assuming she is a real person, something I’m sceptical of) has been on a diet since she was 12. Now that is an entirely different and wholly more controversial issue that I am not even remotely able to tackle within this blog post. However, the main point is, by publishing characters such as Brick, the Daily Mail perpetrates these thin ideals, and encourages women to loathe themselves. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t aim to be healthy, but thin doesn’t necessarily equal health. A nutritious diet and adequate exercise should surely be what we encourage the media to promote, rather than the frankly insulting notion that women should all be on a diet to appeal to men, and keep them.

Women are consistently told they are too fat, too hairy, too saggy, too wrinkly, too plain looking and constantly force themselves to better their appearance. I’m as guilty of this as the next person, we struggle to find security in ourselves so we seek that approval from men and women, some that we don’t even know, based on something so pointless as our appearance. Does our appearance in any way affect whether we are decent, intelligent human beings?  Somehow, I don’t think so. Let’s make a pact, men and women alike, to not let society dictate how we feel about our appearance, and focus on being good people. It baffles me that in 2013 we still place such a huge amount of pressure on women to look a certain way, and threaten them with loneliness should they not conform.

Further reading:

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