What do you think of this image?
What about this one?
At a panel that I attended on Thursday about aesthetic philosophy, A.W. Eaton presented a paper on changing our tastes in the context of fat acceptance. These images, as she rightly pointed out, are complex and somewhat problematic. On one hand, Dove has done something that very few companies do, and that is to show women of different sizes, backgrounds, and colors without privileging one over the other. However, although they are larger than traditional models, they still represent a somewhat limited range of sizes; they are in their underwear and therefore still sexualized and objectified, like many other images of women in advertising and the media; and as far as I can remember (I could be entirely wrong about this), Dove hasn’t really done much more advertising like this since these images were released a few years ago. There’s also the fact that there was a lot of hoopla over the authenticity of the Campaign for Real Beauty, which I’m not going to get into here.
What I really want to know is this: is this a step forward when it comes to body image in advertising and the media? Even if these women are all conventionally beautiful and have very attractive bodies, does that mean that the ad is any less significant when it comes to how sharply it contrasts with other ads for beauty products featuring women? Does seeing slightly larger bodies have the potential to allow us to adapt somewhat to the idea that fat (and as always here, I use this word as an objective descriptor, not as a term that carries any negative connotation) is acceptable, just as acceptable as thin (as A.W. Eaton suggested could be the case in her paper)?
What are your thoughts? Do you remember your reaction when these images were first released? And are there any other issues that these images raise for you?
Embrace:Me 30-day challenge, day 28: Knowing that today (part of it spent at a conference, another part at the airport, another part in taxis, and yet another on an airplane) would be busy and hectic, I made sure to get on the treadmill this morning. By now I’m able to recognize the times when I’ll really regret not getting a workout in, and today, instead of just realizing I should work out but not actually doing it, I did it. I know it definitely helped me keep my calm during a pretty stressful day.