“Is your beach body ready?”

In late April of 2015 an ad in the London tube modelling a fit woman caused outrage among the recipient crowd. Demands that it must be taken down soon followed. Protests as well as online and local rallying pressured the London underground advertisement management enough to remove the advertisement. Was this the right call to make?

The protesters were clearly offended, and their argument was something along the lines of: “This portrays an unrealistic body-ideal which ashames every other body type.” Any advertisement campaign which tries to dominate their potential costumers is not to be tolerated, but did the ad really cross that line?

Does this entitle the protesters to their outrage? If you were to remove the model Renee Somerfield from the ad, and replace her with another model; Tess Holiday, a front figure for the plus-size model trend which has escalated in recent years, would the same demonstrations take place?

Of course not. Tess Holiday’s obesity is no standard to strive after. The view that you are allowed to eat yourself to sickness and call yourself “fat and fabulous” is a narcissistic delusion. It kills any idea of a healthy body image, with ridiculous body dysmorphia, and suggests that you should not think twice about putting garbage in your mouth and swallow it. And keep in mind that Somerfields petite body is not the only healthy one.

The “beach body ready” advertisement is cheap, there is no question about it. The outrage that followed was equally cheap. What if the attention given to this ad was directed elsewhere? What if it was directed at the law-enforced stoning of women for being raped taking place in Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the list does not end there. Somalia, Qatar, Sudan and more all stone women for reasons like owning a cellphone, being raped, and other ridiculous accusations. Choose your battles; London underground advertisement or systematic oppression.

In the sexual arena Feminism has made itself oblivious. Going as far as condemning certain sexual fantasies because they are submissive in nature. A friend of mine who shall remain anonymous admitted to me that she has taken a liking to the “strong submission fantasy”, where she enjoys submitting to a master. It does not seem to help if I tell her: “Your private sexual desire is bad.” With desires and thoughts, the rule is very simple: Think freely.

The famous glass ceiling has also started becoming common knowledge. A barrier blocking women from leader positions. This obviously varies from country to country and business to business, but it is fair to say that this barrier is suspicious. What if a group of men experienced a glass ceiling? Would we recognise their ceiling or simply say: “You were not the best qualified, better luck next time.”

Men are told time and time again that women do not dress up for men, but for themselves. This is perfectly fine, but it simply is not true all the time. Women want attention. Here comes the real bomb: There is nothing wrong with that! It is fine to want attention, and therefore dress stunningly and not just for yourself. Dressing well is a kind of politeness. We are social beings, are we not?

All this idea of dressing for yourself accomplishes is to supply the nurturing environment for narcissism. One must not always have a selfish interest in what one is doing. So dress up for yourself, for others, for your lover or your parents. For whomever you wish to impress. That is empowerment.

Feminism has done a lot for women, and there are places in the world where it is still needed. However, when Renee Somerfield and my female friend who confined in me are both condemned rather than consoled, suppressed instead of supported, should we still respect it? It swore to protect and empower women. What do we do when Feminism attacks its own?

Tekst: Pål Øymoen


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