The Bikini Body and the Twitter Explosion

Two and a half months ago I sent a casual tweet out into the world. It was this picture, which I’d seen, I think,BD3YpzQCMAEnkcU.jpg-large on facebook, and tweeted it along with the phrase, “YES. My bikini body is SO READY.”

It was a success, or a success for me. A few people retweeted it. A couple of people made wittily approving comments. I was satisfied. A good day’s work, I felt.

Then, all of a sudden, this morning shit went cray.

Someone found it, shared it, and within a couple of minutes it had been retweeted by that affable rogue, Chris Addison. I was busy trying to Skype a friend in New Zealand and little black boxes kept popping up; follows and favourites and retweets and replies like confetti at the end of an overly twee musical.

WHY ARE YOU TELLING US THIS, JANINA? WHY ARE YOU SHOWING OFF ABOUT HOW GOOD YOU ARE AT TWITTING?

WELL, dear children, some of the replies gave me a twinge in my social outrage centre (WHY ISN’T THERE A SOCIAL OUTRAGE CENTRE? Somewhere you can go and say “Yes, I’d like to be outraged about this social thing,” and be made to wait on a plastic chair and fill out forms), and I like expounding on opinions, so I’m going to respond to them, in memory order.

NUMBER ONE:

Amongst the avalanche of HUZZAHs were a few comments on how much better the curvier model looks than the other. Yes, obviously, that’s the point of the ad, but the REASON she looks better is not because she’s a better looking model, but because she’s got her hips and boobs thrust forward, she’s turned saucily to the side, she’s FUCKING SMILING. OF COURSE she looks more appealing than the straight on, straight up, frowny girl. Some people are skinny, and that can be sexy. Some people are buxom, and that can also be sexy. WE ALREADY KNOW THIS, WHY DO WE KEEP HAVING TO SAY IT?

NUMBER SECOND:

There were a few comments to the effect that now is the right time for advertisers to start trying to make people want to be fat again, since there are so many companies who make money of selling products high in fat and sugar. I know they were just snide quips that shouldn’t be taken seriously, but I just want to point out that that’s TOTAL BULLSH. It implies that having a fuller figure translates to being unhealthy. That having hips and boobs is an indicator that you eat to much McD’s. And just, like, fuck right off. Sure, it’s a good idea to be reasonable about what you eat; a doughnut is a sometimes food, eat your greens, sure, but HEALTHY and THIN are not the same thing.

And even when we’ve accepted that to be true, I get worried sometimes that people think “thin unhealthy” is better to be than “fat unhealthy” and that “fat healthy” is still bad.

NUMBER LAST:

A couple of people pointed out that all the ad proves is that advertisements will never be satisfied with how you are. Because pulling a Bruno Mars and telling you you’re amazing just the way you are, means there’s nothing they can sell you to make you better. THEREFORE it behooves us all to frequently remind ourselves that ads and magazines are LYING, sometimes out of thoughtlessness, sometimes in a calculated attempt to make you feel like you need to be improved.

You don’t.

Even when it comes to talk about eating disorders, which are obviously things to be battled and conquered, the phrases “too fat” and “too skinny” need to be banished from the lexicon. Body dysmorphia and all the dramatic realisations of it are disorders. They’re about weight and appearance only in that that’s how they manifest, the real problem runs much deeper, and needs to be dealt with by people who know more than you or I.

Just, don’t be dicks, is basically what I’m saying. How many times to you need to be told to play nice and accept each other?

2 thoughts on “The Bikini Body and the Twitter Explosion

  1. I wish people wouldn’t find these vintage ads to be “positive”. They are thin-shaming, which is still wrong. They are still telling women that they are not good enough as they are and they must do something to change. This is never a good message. It wasn’t then, and it isn’t now.

    • I think it’s a really natural knee jerk reaction, and obviously one I initially had. But you’re right; the problem is trying to make people believe they should change.

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