Photo: Weirdly enough, I found this graffiti in central Bristol.
While grey skies and the occasional storm may fool you, the beginning of March usually signifies that summer is right around the corner.
In a matter of weeks – usually later this month – high street stores up and down the country will start stocking shorts and sandals, despite a usually rainy April.
With this in mind, our attention as a society soon draws on just how we’re getting to the beach this summer.
Even more specifically? How we’re going to look good whilst on the beach this summer.
While it’s never been a crime to try and shed the post-Christmas-cushioning, over the past couple of years the sunnier times have brought with them a recurring phrase. And it’s a phrase that implants itself into the psyche of Gym-worshipers and the self-accredited ‘InstaFamous’.
Are You Beach Body Ready?
Coined by supplement supplier Protein World in one of their mid-2015 advertising campaigns, the phrase and its connotations – that losing weight resulted in social-acceptance – were branded as ‘insensitive’ and ‘a product of body-shaming’.
Despite vandalism to billboards, a petition on Change.org with 70,000 signatures and a mass feminist protest in London’s Hyde Park, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that A) the ads did not objectify women and B) Protein World had not done anything wrong.
Funnily enough, come December 2015 and the ad was voted ‘Britain’s Worst Advert of The Year’ in advertising magazine Campaign. Didn’t see that one coming.
Fast forward a couple of years and despite the controversy, not a lot seems to have changed. Protein World are in hot water yet again for an ad featuring Khloe Kardashian.
In honesty, it seems that the brand-awareness the organisation receive from complaints is worth more than maintaining a social conscience.
And that’s where we’re all going wrong.
Social Media has made it easier to preach about our lifestyle choices to both women and men – making others feel worse about themselves. Unlike us, a new generation is growing up with social media – is it right to send out these messages when they’re still impressionable?
I can say with certainty that I’m greeted onto Instagram most days by the rich and beautiful who appeal for me to get richer, fitter and beach body ready in time for the summer.
What if I want to go to the beach and embrace the rolls? Is that even an option.
While I admittedly go to the gym three times a week to let off steam, that’s enough for me to feel that I’m looking after myself. Am I willing to listen to preachers and change my whole lifestyle so someone can call me beach body ready?
Absolutely not. Kale is not for me.
(Note: I’m not ‘good’ at the gym. The one sweating up a sauna at the back of the class? That’s me).
As the world becomes increasingly more digital, messages are spread further and quicker than ever before. If large organisations are going to produce adverts like those of Protein World, maybe it’s our responsibility as social media users to enforce positive body image and self-appreciation.
It’s time to drop the phrase ‘Beach Body Ready’ and stop the summer of shaming.
Remember: If you’d like to go to the beach this summer, that Christmas-cushion is still beach-body ready, now go and plan your summer.