Why Gillette featuring a plus-sized model should be celebrated and not shamed
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When I first saw the Gillette Venus advert featuring plus-sized model Anna O’Brien (aka @glitterandlazers) I felt a split second of celebration.
Image Credit: epilatorhome.com via Flickr
A big company representing a larger woman living her best life and looking fabulous - to me, the image screams fearlessness and the freedom of living 100% unapologetically. I, myself am not plus-sized, but I certainly don’t look like your typical ad-campaign model either, and like the majority of us, I definitely have hang-ups about my own body. I’d do anything to be this comfortable in my own skin, and I found this image hugely inspiring.
However, as I said, this feeling lasted a mere second, as I knew the comments below absolutely would not mirror the positivity that beamed from the original post.
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As expected, an outpour of fat-shaming, eye-roll-worthy ‘jokes’ and self-appointed ‘twitter doctors’ claiming to be concerned for the health of the model ensued. This certainly didn’t come as a surprise to me; I knew they were there before I’d even scrolled down, but it didn’t stop the feeling of disappointment that followed. It’s so nice of some to mask their fat-shaming with feigned concern that plus-sized models promote obesity. But where are you on every other airbrushed, tweaked and tucked campaign image that leads to young women feeling worthless and skipping meals? Ah, that's right, nowhere to be found - cool.
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Not that I am here to shame skinny models - or anyone for that matter. The difference here is that usually, models are so photoshopped that the end result shows someone so unrealistically ‘perfect’ that it’s leading to women attempting to achieve something literally unattainable. These kinds of images are shoved in our faces from birth, in magazines, on TV, billboards and now even on our Instagram feeds, where ‘normal’ people are finely tuned to look more like a runway model than themselves. No pressure guys, but that girl you haven’t seen since school is perfectly posed and looking like a supermodel these days, so you should be too.
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My point is, all of those suddenly ‘concerned’ about the health of young girls looking up to larger women quite frankly didn’t give the slightest of a damn when ad campaigns were making us feel worthless because they only ever featured body shapes unreachable for most. Aside from this, you can not tell the physical health of a person purely by looking at them. I'm no doctor, but it doesn't take a genius to know that not everyone’s bodies naturally look the same. I’ve known people who can live off takeaways and still be a size 8 and I’ve known people who have tried every diet under the sun and still struggle to lose more than a few pounds. Not to mention that some health conditions and medications lead to weight gain that just can’t be shifted.
Not that any of this really matters - the existence of any person regardless of what they eat is fully valid and deserves representation. My point is that you absolutely can’t tell a person’s diet or lifestyle just from looking at them. So please, cut the ‘concerned’ act, just admit you can’t stand to see anyone outside of society’s ‘normal’ standards given a platform, and move on.
The bottom line is that people of all sizes exist, and regardless of their weight deserve to feel accepted and feel good about themselves. When brands and media platforms only ever feature one size and call it ‘beautiful’ it’s easy to be conditioned into believing that anything other than that is not. There will be people buying Venus products that look exactly like Anna, whether you like it or not, and campaigns like this are one step further to making them feel included and worthy.
Pretending fat people don’t exist won’t end obesity, and shaming them, no matter how hard you try, won’t make their existence on this planet any less valid.
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As cliche as it sounds, beauty does come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s amazing to see large companies like Gillette finally get on board with the idea of representing more inclusive beauty ideals. They’ve stood by their decision despite the backlash, since tweeting that they are “committed to representing beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, and skin types because ALL types of beautiful skin deserve to be shown,” and good on them for it.
Venus is committed to representing beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, and skin types because ALL types of beautiful skin deserve to be shown. We love Anna because she lives out loud and loves her skin no matter how the “rules” say she should display it— Gillette Venus (@GilletteVenus) April 4, 2019
Any brand fully committed to making every one of their customers feel heard, accepted and beautiful should be celebrated, it’s just a shame these instances can bring out the worst in the keyboard warriors amongst us. Let’s just hope that more brands begin to use their platform to celebrate the beauty in all of their audience, and eventually society as a whole can shift the old attitude of ‘skinny is the only kind of beauty’ once and for all.
Lead Image Credit: epilatorhome.com via Flickr