Are You ‘Beach Ready’? Women Feel ‘Oppressed’ By Fat-Shamed Bodies

Attention has been gaining momentum since the internet went viral with pictures of weight loss ads which purportedly fat shame people to compel them into buying their weight loss drugs, which often have dangerous side effects when taken in large doses.

Are You Beach Ready?
"I will never look like that girl, my body is so wrong, so imperfect. I am a Big Failure". [Image by katpowder / Instagram]

A wider problem of fat shaming has been recognized in recent headlines when it was alleged that workers at a McDonald’s laughed at a girl ordering six cheeseburgers and four orders of French fries. The worker taking the order is said to have uttered the disparaging remarks.

“Six cheeseburgers. I’m not joking this time. This fat woman wants six burgers.”

What do people find sexy and why does the media seem to portray the same image over and over?

Is beauty subjective? Is beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

It is certainly true that throughout time, the idea of beauty has changed considerably. For example, in the Baroque period of Europe, it was fashionable for women to have weight on them. It was a sign of being upper class to exhibit excess, which was attributed to security. A woman of extraordinary beauty would be one of extraordinary girth, as she provided the milk of the children and benefited from the luxury her husband provided her.

Peter Paul Rubens Painted Voluptuous Women
Oil Paintings in the Baroque period idealized women with curves. [Image by Peter Paul Rubens [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

Would the woman in the above photo be “beach body” ready? Would she have been shamed for her size by her peers and society? Not during 16th and 17th Century Europe, when paintings like these would have been commissioned.

Times have changed. In the 21st century, women have moved to a post-modern dichotomy in which some, like Taylor Swift, who flaunt her own, and others’, perfection.

The Taylor Swift Squad is criticized because it perpetuates the high school elitism of cheerleaders and football players. The thin, attractive and privileged are placed together in a ritual that leaves the majority of people ashamed of their bodies.

Taylor Swift is tall, thin and beautiful.
Taylor Swift bases her music career on a persona of a woman who has it all, looks, fame and money. Can real people ever achieve these things? [Taylor Swift / Instagram]

It is this image that young girls and women look at when they see the ad “are you beach ready?” Then the shame. Then the guilt. Divas like Taylor Swift are so glamorous, and in their videos they enjoy lifestyles of most people’s fantasies. Children and adults want to look like successful people, even if they cannot be them. This can sometimes end up tragically.

Some would argue that the celebrity idea of beauty, portrayed in stylish clothes (clothes which only look good on a size zero model) and on figures maintained with resources no regular person could afford should itself be shamed.

Other voices.

Attitudes are changing. Notions of things that make a person sexy, such as age or body shape, are moving in positive directions for women in particular who are encouraged to love the natural beauty of their bodies.

The way it works is that no one takes the full blame for the cycle of beauty being defined by the media and that definition being an image unattainable and unhealthy for girls to aspire to. When children as young as eight have eating disorders, it is time to take a new attitude toward the images to which we subject our children.

Serena Williams, 2015 Sexiest Woman of the Year Award.

It is hopeful to see that a woman whose reputation is built upon a sport has taken on the title of sexiest woman. This is positive because her figure reflects that of a toned athlete, and to that extent one who has a natural woman’s figure (though some would argue still ideal to a large extent).

In any case, whatever beauty you enjoy, remember that asking the question “are you beach ready?” is a form of fat shaming, but also that whatever your body, you need only ask if the beach is ready for you.

[Image by skeeze/Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain]