#BodyLove vs. Body Shame: Why we need to embrace our bodies


9:01 am - June 28th 2013

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by Taran Bassi

At 1pm today, a campaign to promote ‘body acceptance’ will reach its peak with a flashmob across the country. The main one will be on the South Bank in London, and others across schools, colleges, Universities and online.

Anyone can participate by scrawling in the middle of a heart something that they love about their bodies, and tweet a picture with the hashtag #BodyLove, or share their story by using the same hash tag.

The campaign is loud and unapologetic in the view that we should love our bodies as opposed to being ashamed of them.

Body shame is all over the internet, for e.g. on the MailOnline’s “sidebar of shame”, evolving into a dominant practice within culture and media. It targets predominantly women for almost every single part of their physical appearance: bingo wings, muffin tops, cankles, cameltoe, crows feet, thunder thighs…the list of derogatory language used to describe the female form is endless.

We are constantly bombarded with images of the ‘ideal’, such as how to get ‘pearly white teeth’, ‘glowing skin’, ‘beautiful hair’ and let’s not forget the all-important ‘body you have always dreamed of’. Females are fed an image of perfection, and to deviate from that image or demonstrate resistance suggests that you are not beautiful.

Slut shaming and victim shaming too derive from the concept of body shame. They are typically victimised for their ‘sexy’ appearance, suggesting they are responsible for unwanted attention.

In a culture tightly controls definitions of beauty, where adhering to strict diet regimes are symbolic of a achievement, and where it is acceptable for topless women to appear in a national newspaper, this campaign serves as a giant ‘fuck you’.

#BodyLove in our culture has to win against body shame, because it allows women a chance and a choice to embrace something that has sadly often been used against them – their own bodies.

More about the #BodyLove project here

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Reader comments


Why oh why do I have images of lots of guys with ‘big cock’ written in the middle of a heart?

Oh right yeah, it’s cos I’m a size queen.

It targets predominantly women for almost every single part of their physical appearance: bingo wings, muffin tops, cankles, cameltoe, crows feet, thunder thighs…the list of derogatory language used to describe the female form is endless.

I have never heard a man use any of these terms and, I have to say, I don’t know what most of them mean. It’s a strange phenomenon but it is a fact that it is women who tend to be more focussed on their appearance and that of other women.

Not sure what this campaign is saying.

Are you commanding men to find different things about women attractive and berating women to stop pandering to those things that they think men find attractive?

Or are you berating everyone because there is too much of a consensus, for your liking, on what most people view as beautiful and ugly?

Whichever it is, good luck with that!!!!

If it’s any consolation to you, in my experience different men tend to be sexually attracted to different kinds of women. For example some like women with small breasts and some like women with large breasts. Some prefer brunettes to blonds. Some men are even attracted to obese women.

But I’m guessing you will not be consoled by the above information because, ultimately, you want to deny the role of the female body as an object of sexual attraction for the heterosexual male.

A protest against the sun rising tomorrow might be more effective.

3. Shatterface

In a culture tightly controls definitions of beauty, where adhering to strict diet regimes are symbolic of a achievement, and where it is acceptable for topless women to appear in a national newspaper, this campaign serves as a giant ‘fuck you’.

Yes, we are all against body shame and slut shame but we don’t want topless women in the newspapers coz they’re sluts for displaying their bodies so shamelessly.

I have never heard a man use any of these terms and, I have to say, I don’t know what most of them mean. It’s a strange phenomenon but it is a fact that it is women who tend to be more focussed on their appearance and that of other women.

I’ve heard gay men use these terms but not straight men: we’re as likely to talk about shoes or handbags.

It’s also worth contrasting the curved figures found in Nuts and Loaded with the emaciated figures found in fashion magazines or the body hatred in the gossip rags: this is women hating women.

4. TheGrandInquisitor

The general message I think we have today is the following:

Don’t be ashamed of your body, and there is nothing wrong with nudity, but don’t walk down the street because you’ll likely be arrested for causing distress, and don’t allow the sight of your body to be used for the sexual arousal of men because that turns them into rapists and makes other people feel bad about themselves.

But I’m guessing you will not be consoled by the above information because, ultimately, you want to deny the role of the female body as an object of sexual attraction for the heterosexual male.

Pagar you really don’t actually bother understanding a piece when you respond to it. Ridiculous knee-jerk response.

Also, why do certain men on this website feel the need to post sarcastic rejoinders every time a woman writes about feminism?

why do certain men on this website feel the need to post sarcastic rejoinders every time a woman writes about feminism?

Because, as with this piece, what is written is so often ridiculous and flies in the face of the objective reality that everyone else inhabits.

The “sins of the patriarchy” meme only has traction for those, like yourself, who hold the kind of distorted world view where natural impulses are haunted by guilt and shame.

Prove me wrong, Sunny, and tell me what size of breasts do it for you!!!

7. Arheydis Faakenjaab

I’ve viewed some of the online pictures of the event

Mostly mingers.

8. Arheydis Faakenjaab

and what the heck are cankles and cameltoes?

9. So Much For Subtlety

British people are getting fatter and fatter all the time. Allegedly there will be future health consequences of this. In the meantime there are certainly aesthetic consequences as obese people are just horrible to look at.

This is not the way for British people to be happy.

Lucky for us Americans have done this experiment before – Black and Hispanic girls are far more likely to be happy with their body shape than White girls. They are also far more likely to be obese.

We need more body shame, not less.

Slut shaming and victim shaming too derive from the concept of body shame. They are typically victimised for their ‘sexy’ appearance, suggesting they are responsible for unwanted attention.

Sorry but what is the connection between criticising a girl for embracing her sexuality in an overly healthy way and criticising a girl for being fat? They are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Girls have to work hard to be sexy these days. I am sure most sensible people would agree the contribute to any attention they get.

In a culture tightly controls definitions of beauty, where adhering to strict diet regimes are symbolic of a achievement,

Adhering to a diet regime is an achievement. One that most people are too lazy, disorganised and greedy to achieve. That is why many people think you should not hire fat people. It does actually indicate something about character.

and where it is acceptable for topless women to appear in a national newspaper

Are you slut shaming these girls and their healthy embrace of their sexuality? I think you are.

this campaign serves as a giant ‘fuck you’.

No it doesn’t. It just shows middle class girls attention seeking. And proves, once more, the wisdom of Rush Limbaugh.

10. Shatterface

Also, why do certain men on this website feel the need to post sarcastic rejoinders every time a woman writes about feminism?

You seem to think the best way to represent feminism is by thawing out feminists frozen sometime in the ’70s – just as you seem to think the best way to represent green issues is by publishing stuff by people who think the Industrial Revolution was our biggest mistake since climbing down from the trees.

11. Step Left

So they miss a huge aspect of this. The State and its constant hectoring of peoples lifestyles and consumption choices.

The constant alarmist statements about obesity crisis, alcohol crisis, fast food and smoking. The State has done a lot to make people fearful of their body shapes as marketing. Why is this rarely commented on?


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