Header: Credit: Shutterstock
Last week the world was weird.
Just like Klitschko, we really had a lot to contend with, although I'd much prefer to be up against Anthony Joshua than this lot....
Donald Trump completed his first 100 days in office and we worried about impending war. He celebrated by saying “I don't know, we’ll see?” when asked if there will be unrest with North Korea.
‘Smell of Poo’ a parody of Ed Sheeran's Shape of You, went viral and I can't stop singing it.
David Cameron, for some reason, spent £25K on a shed for writing in, and the media had a frenzy over the 36-year-old French presidential candidate being married to a 64 year old.
We all went mad for the boxing, swooning over Anthony Joshua (after hearing he still lives in his mums council flat) and then subsequently heartbroken when we heard he’s already taken.
Less baffling was that Patrick Swayze’s Dirty Dancing leather jacket sold at auction for $62.500. If I was to say that was unreasonable, I'd be lying. You can't put a price on iconic clothing worn by the man who wouldn’t “put baby in the corner”.
Top bill for the week of weirdness, was Kim K’s Bottom.
After releasing pool float merchandise in the form of her famous behind that broke the Internet, the Belfie lover took to Puerto Rico to shamelessly self-promote her wares by exploiting the paps. They didn't seem to be bummed out to be pimping her peach, in little more than an itsy bitsy, albeit vintage, teeny-weeny bikini..
The photos immediately made the rounds online, with them barring very little resemblance to the smooth, photoshopped versions of Kim's derrière that we are so used to seeing.
It didn't take long for Twitter to have an opinion, and Piers Morgan was pretty vocal about his distaste for Kim and her booty, calling her cellulite a flaw, and tweeting that it wasn't “something to celebrate”.
Immediately, my feminist heckles were raised.
Like a cat about to pounce, claws out, I went straight for his article and found myself, unbelievably… agreeing with some of what he was saying. NOT that cellulite is a flaw, but that perhaps the intent behind the Kardashians bare-all attitude for self-promotion was wearing a bit thin.
In the aftermath of the photos, Kim lost over 100,000 followers on Instagram, with a lot of users calling her out for finally revealing her true figure, and it not being anything like the tweaked and toned photoshop pics we've become accustomed to, with one women pointing out “there’s nothing real about you”.
I scratched my head, confused. Why were all these people abandoning the Kardashian ship over a bit of the old orange peel. Can't we as women handle realness anymore? Why is everyone unfollowing her for being confident about her body?
Or is it disappointment, that's turning into anger, when we all realize we’ve been buying into something that just isn't real? All her touched-up posts that make us buy into the Kardashian brand so we to can look that amazing, only for the smoke and mirrors to fall back to reveal something, dare I say it, gross in intent? Maybe her figure isn’t everyone's cup of tea, but we’re not here to body-shame, is it the manipulation of young women's minds, based on false realities that we are finding revolting?
But why take it out on Kim? Haven't the fashion industry and the media been doing this for as long as we can remember? Aren't we guilty of it ourselves, on social media?
Only giving a glimpse of our best selves, removing those blemishes with a tap on the screen, a little slimming app here, amping up the saturation in that filter to give us a more golden glow there? Kylie Jenner herself came under fire for it this week. After uploading a pic of her tiny waist, she was immediately trolled by users, calling her out for Photoshopping herself. Kylie then got on the defensive, and felt the need to prove her figure hadn't been tampered with, by sharing more photos of her midriff exposed.
At this point I’m not sure what to think.. A war of internal conflict rages within me – what with that, my impending 25th birthday and my monthly visit from Mother Nature, I’m not sure if to laugh or cry at what I've been seeing this week.
I'm angry with Kim, and Kylie, and the “industry” in general, for promoting these unattainable figures, flawless skin and constantly changing wardrobes. Annoyed at being fooled into believing they are perfect, and that we should try to be too. But I sympathize with them at the same time. Why can't these women alter there bodies the way they feel best? Why did Kylie need to prove herself? Why does Kim feel the need to photoshop for her publicity photos in the first place?
And which side was I on? Was I team Kim? Team Piers? Team Kylie? Did I NEED a pool float shaped like a butt in my life? And how could I advocate body confidence and female empowerment when I myself had turned to cosmetic surgery?
Women contain multitudes.
As a young women, I firmly believe that we should love ourselves and our bodies, and feel proud of them. I'm also, as we know, a person who has had cosmetic surgery to feel more comfortable in my own skin. Can I hold both these values at the same time or are they contradiction in their selves? Yes.
To quote the wisest of words from Walt Whitman, “Do I contradict myself? … Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.”
And we do contain multitudes, as women; we contain lots of ideals and beliefs, that can all be right even if they seem to contradict each other. We can want our children to do well in school, but also feel that there's more to life than books. We can believe that we should treat our bodies well, but still crave that fatty, sugary processed food.
It's swings and roundabouts.
What it boils down to is - is does it make me feel good? And is it harming anyone else? And how do I apply that to what's happening with the Kardashians, belfies and selfies, social media, and the minds of young women today? For me, the Kardashians, and the likes of the media and fashion industry, are harming how we women see ourselves. They continue the nasty tradition of women's bodies being sexually objectified and represented as objects to attain. Piers Morgan is officially “done” and “no longer wants to keep up with the Kardashian's”, and honestly, me neither. Not unless it's the realest version of themselves that they are comfortable sharing with the public.
Hail the real women
A beacon in the stormy waters of advertising came this week from the ladies of Loose Women, the popular ITV program.Huge billboards across the UK, showing un-retouched black and white images of real women, with their scars and cellulite and mummy tummys bravely bared for their nationwide body confident campaign. “You can look but you can't retouch.” It's just what we women need, at the end of a week of internal confusion over how we feel about the truth behind what we see online.
This was something I could grab by the love handles on these ladies hips, and kiss squarely on the lips. Yes, Katy Perry, I wanna kiss these girls! Thank you, Janet Street Porter! Thank you, Saira Khan, Thank you, Coleen Nolan, Thank you, Stacey Solomon! It’s an ad campaign reminiscent of Dove’s Real Beauty, that launched way back in 2004. Back when I didn't really have many body hang ups, and totally took for granted how much I could eat without any exercise and I just did not appreciate how sparse my body hair was. I still remember the feeling of Dove touching on something big.
For one of the first times, we saw a group of non-model women, of all shapes, colors and sizes, splashed across magazines and on our TV’s, in unremarkable white underwear. It was the honesty that was remarkable.
Even to my young self, this was REVOLUTIONARY.
Without getting into the history of how women are portrayed by marketing companies and how the female body has always been shown a certain way, this was by all standards, like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs.
And here it is again from the Loose Women.. A nod to real, perfectly imperfect proper lasses! It's a movement about body confidence, and a step in a better direction, for more widely seen advertising that is HONEST. It's leagues away from what Kim was trying to achieve in Puerto Rico. While she is selling herself as a product, these women are selling us an idea.
It's a priceless idea. It's women loving themselves, it's women being represented truthfully across the media. It's the images we face on a daily basis, that shape how we feel about ourselves. It's a reality that we can relate to.
In the history of change, there has to be someone to start the conversation, and when the men change the subject, it's our responsibility to bring it boomeranging back.
It's insane that we describe what these women are doing as brave, because they maybe felt shy or ashamed of their bodies before.
What the Loose Women are trying to promote and change is nothing new, it just needs to be more widespread, and we need to put pressure on companies and magazines to be honest about the female body, stretch marks, veins, scars, cellulite, rolls and all.
Here's to the advertising heroes!
Let's highlight some of the brands that ARE being responsible..
L’oreal and Illamasqua using real women, and women over 50 in their campaigns. No ageism please!
No7 launched Colour Your Way, featuring non-models whose photos weren't retouched, hurrah! Now we can stop throwing away those vouchers we keep getting and support an honest product!
Nikes Better For It campaign showed women excelling at physical activities while overcoming female obstacles.
Shout out to MYA here, for always using real patients in their adverts. I proudly had the chance to experience and be a part of that. It was about giving other girls the confidence to feel comfortable if they do choose to get cosmetic surgery. It's not about advocating that you change who you are, or that you have to look a specific way, it's about being empowered enough to make that choice when you’ve tried everything else.
But what about the people?! Forget the corporations and business, let's to turn to ourselves.
There's plenty of movements out there if you know where to look. Don't waste frivolous time on social media, stop stalking your ex’s new girlfriend and screenshotting a million makeup looks that you won't get around to trying. Use your time as a tool to empower other women!
#whatsunderneathproject is a great one to start with, they've created videos of women, in their underwear but in a non-objectifying way, going under the surface and telling their stories.
#lessismore is a tag exposing the fashion industries heavy reliance on photoshop and putting pressure on glossy mags to cut out the tampering.
#imnoangel is a group of women of all sizes, sharing photos of themselves and a personal statement of confidence. We all know the VS angels are amazing, but these women are something else!
#loosehatenotweight are trying to shake the “ I’m not good enough mindset.” And you should join them too!
What do we do?
RAWR! Tiger woman, stop worrying about stretch marks, we all have them, think of them as our fierce lady stripes. Textile artist, Sally Hewett even uses them as inspiration for her beautiful work, which looks at typically unsightly areas of the female body and immortalizes them into beautiful pieces.
A sad fact - 96% of women do not use the word “beautiful” to describe how they look.
It's hard not to self-depreciate, but we must work together, and look at campaigns like “you can look but can't retouch” and promote their message.
What about me? I'm kitted up and ready for battle. Armed with some Fix + (for that dewy glow, ya know), a trusty bullet of MACs Ruby Woo, my running shoes and the latest novel from Our Shared Shelf (Emma Watsons feminist book club). I'll continue to fight the nature versus nurture moral.
I mean I like my face, but I love to contour! My feet are great! They carry me! I love them just the way they are, for getting me from A to B! But holographic toenail polish gives me unicorn vibes, and why be natural when you can be a unicorn?
Accepting that I'm beautiful just the way I am is something to fight for, and I can accept that having cosmetic surgery doesn't undermine those beliefs. Life is too complicated to say that we can't have different rules or contradictions.
We are multitudes. We are beautiful.
Let's pledge to be more honest online, more welcoming, more supportive of each other.
Remember that not every photo has to look like something from Vogue, the girls in those photos don't look like that in real life either.
Let's pledge call ourselves beautiful, and call others beautiful too. And let's not forget that beauty isn't everything. Let's post photos of our hobbies and interests, let's share achievements as often as we upload a selfie. Hey, I baked a scrummy cake! Here's an interesting book I've just read, maybe one of my gal pals would like it now I’ve finished with it! Look at this, I planted some seeds that will grow into plants that will help the bee colonies flourish. Just anything really, as long as the intent is honest, it comes from a heartfelt place, and promotes us girls, because no one else will do it for us.
Let's pledge to celebrate cellulite, and all our flaws. Cellulite is as real as every women on this earth, so yes, let's celebrate it, whilst remembering not to support or buy into that which isn't real.
It's the dishonesty in representation we need to go to war with, not the female body.