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Beach Body Ready: Body Shaming in Advertisement
This advertisement was published by Protein World, a British fitness store in 2015. The advertisement unsurprisingly raised many concerns with regards to the messages that it was sending, and it resulted in the ad being banned across the United Kingdom.
The ad raises several feminist critiques related especially to body shaming, stereotyping, and the sexualization of a woman’s body. The model in the photo is portrayed quite literally as the golden standard for all bodies that women should have, both in the central positioning of the model in the photo, but also in the extensive use of yellow throughout the ad, which closely resembles the color gold. Moreover, the question “Are You Beach Body Ready?” implies that going to the beach is exclusively for women who look like the model in the image. Thus, it also sends the message that if you do not look like the model, you do not belong at the beach. Not only is this unrealistic, but it encourages and normalizes the objectification of the bodies of women, it directs everyone’s attention straight to the body of the woman and nothing else. It perpetuates the idea that a woman’s value is attached to their body, and that there are standards that a woman’s body must meet in order to have this value.
Compounding the issue of sexism in this ad is also the issue of race. The model in the image is Caucasian. Thus, by choosing this model specifically portraying her as the gold standard for women everywhere, it also subliminally signals that white women are superior to women of other races and backgrounds. It reinforces colonial practices of hierarchy, where certain races are superior to others.
Additionally, the ad implies that if people are not “beach body ready” that they should get the weight loss pills. The ad prays on an insecurity and encourages consumption as the remedy. This kind of process encapsulates a capitalist mindset, whereby people are manipulated by mass media into mass consumerism. There is a sense of detachment with one’s body, as they are encouraged to see their own bodies as inadequate and imperfect, and to see the consumption of the weight loss pill as the solution.
In the new version of the ad, I have made several changes to highlight the stereotyping and sexualization of women.
I cropped out the face of the woman on the ad, to reflect the hyper-sexualization of the ad. In the original, the body of the model was a central focus, and it the message intended to force people to compare their bodies to that of the model in the image. As such, I removed her face entirely, to emphasize the focus on the body of the woman. Subsequently, this also highlights the sexualization of the body of a woman, as it reflects the way in which the ad encourages us to see value only in the body and nothing else. Cropping out the face of the model helps to encapsulate the ad’s objectification of the woman’s body.
I switched the words around from “Are you” to “You are”, to make obvious the judgement that the ad is passing on people. The statement of “You are beach body ready” is a straight-forward approach at stating that the model in the picture is the standard for people in order to go to the beach. Previously, the blurb under the question said “Substituting two daily meals of an energy restricted diet with a meal replacement contributes to weight loss.” However, I have changed this to simply say “Get Slim. Or Stay Home.” The ad was attempting to encourage people to go and buy the pill, by hinting at the supposed benefits of consuming these weight loss pills. However, the jammed statement helps to send this message across much clearer.