While several body-positivity movements have gained attention lately, there is still an exhaustingly long way to go when it comes to putting a stop to body-shaming.

Lately, beauty brand Avon is being called out for an advertising campaign which outright shames women for having cellulite. The advertisement for ‘Naked Proof products’ features a woman laughing, alongside the message: “Dimples are cute on your face (not on your thighs).”. A second advert in the campaign reads, “Every body is beautiful”, and contradicts its own statement by highlighting products to “reduce cellulite, firm skin and soften stretch marks”.

The Backlash

The advertisement, which read “dimples are cute on your face (not on your thighs)”, was first criticised by actor Jameela Jamil on social media. The actor was joined by other women who felt the advertisement was spreading insecurity.

“I don’t think there’s any woman out there who does not have dimples in their thighs (cellulite) and stretch marks and yet the media still forces us to see it as “ugly”, which only makes us downgrade ourselves and make the path to self-love harder and harder,” said one Twitter user.

Simply rectifying the act, just like companies do after a backlash, actually never helps the cause to its fullest. There’s a need for a major change in the way people view and stereotype women’s identities

The company, after severe criticism, apologised for having touched the wrong subject, mentioning how they “missed the mark with this messaging” in the advertisement. “Hi Jameela, we completely understand where you’re coming from. We realize that we missed the mark with this messaging. We have removed this messaging from all future marketing materials. We fully support our community in loving their bodies and feel confident in their own skin,” the Tweet read.

The point remains that despite receiving backlash for such ads, corporates still need to be reminded about the importance of self-love and body-positivity.

The Impacts

Considering some factors as the only perfect ones that define how a woman should be is the most discriminating. What’s even more harmful is the silent, brushing away manner in which this discrimination happens all around us — silent judgements, looks, stares and more. No one is spared when it comes to this. Haven’t we all see tabloids zooming in and circling the tiniest details of several female celebrities’ bodies which they consider as ‘flaws’?

It’s so ironical that those, who take hours and hours to correct their pictures before posting them across social media platforms, do not blink for a second before posting demeaning, unfiltered comments on someone else’s photo uploads

It’s shocking that many can’t digest that people can be happy, confident, and not fit into set standards of what’s healthy or beautiful. “I’ve been body-shamed on social media and in person,” says Jacqueline Adan, a body-positivity advocate who lost 350 pounds. “I’ve been pointed and laughed at, and I get asked all the time what’s wrong with my body; why it looks so ‘bad and so ugly’. I get told to cover it up because it is disgusting and no one wants to see it.”

The fact that it has unfortunately been normalised to make fun of people, on a so called “lighter note”, on the basis of their weight — and the stereotyped dialogues attached therein — is reason enough for major brands to touch this particular nerve and promote their products in line with these ideologies. 

There is a massive difference between caring about someone’s “health” and downright shaming that person in the process. Body-shaming won’t make make people healthier. Research reveals that fat-shaming eventually makes people more likely to develop stress, insecurity and unhealthy habits.

What is the way forward?

  • There will be a permanent stop to body-shaming not only when we tackle it structurally, but also collectively. An individual behavioural change will not make all the difference today — we need a significant cultural and social change.
  • Among several other aspects, social media is a platform that needs to undergo a huge transition. The prejudices about skin tones, height, facial features, body weight, hair textures, and a lot more, need to go. People should not be categorised on the basis of how they look. Families, friends and acquaintances must understand the concept of treating everyone equally and not on the basis of how one appears from the outside. 
  • Learnt to stand by people who are under the radar of body-shaming. If you see someone being shamed, stand by them and tell them that they’re perfect the way they are. Don’t be afraid to use the power of love and empathy.

Don’t let comments bring you down. Continue being yourself and living your life the way you think is appropriate. This is what will make the biggest impact 

While we’re still on this path of change and acceptance, it’s important to understand that we need to stop taking these body-shaming chain of people seriously. While it’s hard to ignore everything there is on social media and beyond, it’s important to try and not let these haters bring you down. 

More stories by Bhawana

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