Fashion + Psychology

Debunking the ‘Summer Body’ myth

If you’ve been keeping up with anything happening in the world right now, I won’t be the first person to tell you that summer 2020 is no more. Forget your plans, summer is officially canceled. But with summer existing purely inside and at a socially acceptable distance, it has got me wondering. What would various marketing groups be preparing for their advertisement campaigns in a bid to sell you their idealised image of what a woman should look like?

The Summer Body

So, what exactly is the ‘Summer Body’? Major corporations advertise the ‘Summer Body’, usually a thin woman, with a flat stomach and toned abs. This idealised version of women has created a tactic for companies to shame and humiliate women who do not fit in. If these ad campaigns have anything to say its that you’re not her and unless you buy this fitness DVD you never will be. The most damaging part of this statement is the effect on women. It worms its way into our brains and makes us think that they’re right. This practise feeds into diet culture and the problem with not allowing women to just be themselves. Thus, resulting in lowered self esteem and how one feels about themselves and the body they live in. Promoting self hate and encouraging unhealthy habits such as those weight loss teas previously mentioned. It does not matter how many times people tell us that we look great, with adverts constantly showing the same type of body it puts women into two boxes: those who fit in and those who do not. Those who will look good on the beach and those who will not.

The Winter Body

This process towards The Summer Body actually starts in the month completely opposite, winter. It starts during a time where the Winter Body is at full effect. Hairy legs because it’s so cold no one wants to show off skin. The age old ‘its Christmas’ excuse when you go back for another slice of Turkey or an extra mince pie. The non-stop fitness DVD adverts on TV screens in the middle of a feel good Christmas romp, because women never deserve a day off from feeling bad about themselves, and summer 2020 is only six months away. The Summer Body and the Winter Body are two extremes of themselves, but both serve to make women feel uncomfortable. Women can’t even enjoy Christmas or New Years without being reminded about their bodies. You don’t need an excuse to eat chocolate, or cake or pie. You have a body and that is all you need.

How to dismantle the system

There has been some change, last year Boots had a fantastic advert where they laughed in the face of the dreaded Summer Body. They reworked the lyrics of Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’ instead saying ‘Leave it out, Nobody looks like that, It’s just a load of chat’. The fact that an advert where women just being themselves feels radical is a sign that we need more. To watch a summer advert and be able to see yourself in one of the women on the beach was an empowering moment and more brands should follow Boots’ example. There is also the plus-sized fashion brand navabi who hit back at Protein World’s ‘Are You Beach Body Ready?’ campaign, which sparked mass criticism for enforcing this body standard for women. Their ad featured plus-sized models being themselves with their beautiful Summer Bodies and it was a huge success. It even inspired women to make their own ad campaigns showing that all bodies are beach ready.

Women fighting back

But it wasn’t just navabi who had something to say. A tweet by @Dr_Yalz on Twitter shows the women of London fighting back against these damaging posters, changing the words to read #EachBodysReady. Each picture dictates an anonymous response from disgruntled women. ‘Stop encouraging women to starve themselves’ with the phrase ‘meal replacement’ circled on the advert. The modifications continued, ‘Contrary to popular, women’s bodies do not need to be changed, for the beach or anywhere else, Thank you.’

These words of wisdom show companies like Protein World and any other marketing team in the weight loss, fitness, or even clothing business that negative portrayals of women will not survive in summer 2020 or any after that.

What is a Summer Body?

Answer: The beautiful one you’re in right now.

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