You have by now seen the recent Protein World advertisement, featuring the attractive 24 year-old model Renee Somerfield, and read all the backlash from the public. People are not happy with the ad, displayed throughout London Underground stations, which asks women if their bodies are ready for the beach. As a 29 year-old female I feel uncomfortable that, in general, there is a substantial amount of importance placed on how we all look and how much we weigh. Sure, it is important to look after yourself: I personally aim to eat a balanced diet, exercise a few times a week and live a healthy lifestyle so that I don't develop diabetes or have a stonkingly high cholesterol. But it is rare for me to refuse a glass of wine, or a second serving of my boyfriend's cooking, or resist the temptation of salted caramel anything, especially not for the purpose of looking my best in a bikini. (All my friends will happily testify to this).
My main concern is reserved for young girls growing up with these images, and their potentially damaging messages, and not feeling good enough as a result. Navigating adolescence and adulthood is confusing enough without having to deal with adverts featuring exceptionally attractive humans, which can leave you feeling not feminine enough, not tan enough, not slim enough: especially as marketing sends very mixed messages and tends to lack diversity. You must have boobs that are neither too big nor too small and you must also be a nice girl who doesn't wear too much make-up with an enviable wardrobe at all times, one that makes other women jealous of you and ensures that men desire you. I wouldn't blame any girl who spent her entire adolescence locked indoors just to avoid all the upset.
Feminism has recently experienced a surge in popularity and it is safe to say that celebrity endorsement has played a role. Think Emma Watson and the United Nations #HeForShe campaign, Beyoncé performing in front of a huge "FEMINIST" sign, Taylor Swift identifying as a feminist and Amy Poehler launching Smart Girls. If you look to women's magazines the situation is also encouraging: Glamour UK are putting a spotlight on female sporting events and sporting figures in 2015, Marie Claire UK regularly features posts on the subject of feminism and ELLE UK quickly showed their support for #HeForShe.
Ten years ago, maybe even five years ago, it would have been unimaginable for the public to speak out against Protein World. That both men and women are taking to Twitter and expressing their disgust at the campaign is a huge success for feminism. Another recent victory includes Victoria's Secret receiving so many complaints about their "Perfect Body" ad that they were (discreetly) forced to change it. What is not so great, and only serves as a reminder to keep moving forward, is the abuse doled out to those who dare to speak up. Katie Hopkins labels them "chubsters" whilst others say they should just shut up whinging and not buy the product if they disagree with it.
Body shaming is omnipresent and that is what makes it scary: young boys and girls need to be taught that the images we see around us have most likely been retouched for the purpose of marketing and to not buy into the beauty myth. I don't judge the model for choosing to be healthy and look after her body, but I do question her decision to promote a food supplement that promises weight loss - does she herself use Protein World, maybe that's the question we should be asking? What's in these pills, that a balanced diet and/or regular exercise can't help with? A Change.org petition has had over 50,000 signatures at the time of posting meaning the ad will be removed from Underground stations.
I enjoy my daily morning ritual of getting ready. I cleanse, tone and moisturise my face, brush my teeth and then the make-up goes on. Some days I'll opt for eye-liner and mascara but most days I like a pretty natural look which still involves concealer, blush, mascara and eyebrow pencil. I choose how much I buy into the booming beauty industry - it is me who is in control. Ultimately I put effort into my appearance for myself and not for anyone else. This has not always been the case however - let's just say it has been a real journey to get to this point and my suitcase is still not fully unpacked. Onwards and upwards.