For decades advertising has stuck to outdated stereotypes when it comes to representation of women and their bodies, and all of us have conformed to these unrealistic standards. A certain kind of body is made to look so desirable in advertisements that a lot of us not only end up desiring it but, aim to achieve it as well. Many times body-shaming is used to further fix these stereotypical notions of beauty in our heads. Infact shame is also used to guide the way we treat our so-called imperfect bodies.
Have dark skin? Use a fairness cream? Have stretch marks, crow lines, blemishes? Why not try out such and such cream endorsed by so and so celebrity. Frizzy hair make you look undesirable? Why not try this hair straightener? Are you plus size? This is the brand and style of clothing you ought to wear. The stigmatisation and policing never ends!
‘Styles to hide your curves’
Actor Maanvi Gagroo, popular for her work in the web-series Four More Shot Please! was taken aback after she saw one of her pictures being used by a clothing brand for an advertisement. The dress worn by her in the picture was being promoted under ‘styles to hide your curves’. Gagroo pointed out that she had not given any kind of consent to the brand to use her picture. She was also outraged by the distasteful tagline which was used for the post.
“I didn’t wear this dress to ‘hide my curves’. Not only does the brand NOT have my permission to use my picture as a sponsored post, they definitely don’t have my permission to fat shame ANYONE! I stand against everything this distasteful tagline points to,” she wrote in a tweet.
The advertisement was fat-shaming people by asking them to hide their curves wearing dresses which have been styled to suit their body-type.
While the label has apologised for their ad and removed it from social media now, the fact remains that the advertisement was fat-shaming people by asking them to hide their curves and wearing dresses which have been styled to do that. As if curves are something to be ashamed of. Giving a shoutout to all the ladies out there who have not been able to lose weight (because there is a need to lose weight), then policing what kind of clothes they should wear kind of negates the purpose of the first part, doesn’t it? Such harsh taglines and punchlines are being used without even thinking about the kind of emotional toll they can take on a person, and the sense of insecurity it can generate.
The question that I want to raise to the brand in question and especially the advertisers here is, who are you to define police what looks good on us and what doesn’t? Who are you to determine that being fat is something to be ashamed of? Who are you to establish that if you are curvy you should hide it? But the most important of all is how has this become so normalized that no one even bothers to question this? Consumerism cannot be promoted at the stake of making somebody else feel insecure. All that this advertisement promotes is the belief that women who are plus size are less than other women, and that they must hide their body because showing it off is not acceptable or glamourous. This is not true and nobody has the right to make us feel this way.
Who are you to determine that being fat is something to be ashamed of? Who are you to establish that if you are curvy you should hide it?
Nobody should feel pressured by the need for them to match these unrealistic expectations surrounding our bodies. The only thing that ads should focus on is promoting self-love, confidence, and diversity, instead of propagating hate just for the sake of selling a product.
Shreya is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.