Thursday, 2 July 2015

Beach Body Ready and Other Women: It's About Settling

Quite rightly the ASA didn't find the Protein World Beach Body Ready poster offensive .

They did find its claims unrealistic, and banned it on those grounds. That achieves the result the body-positives wanted but not for their reasons, and in ideology, reasons are more important than results.

First time I saw it I thought the model had been photo-shopped, looked more closely and realised she hadn't. Renee Somerfield is the one young woman in the world who really does look like that, and it must have taken the agency days looking on Instagram to find her.

It's not easy finding a non-photo-shopped image of Renee, Why anyone would bother, I have no idea.

I don't have carved abs and 10% body fat. But I'm not put off by photographs of men who do, whether they are Men's Health Hunk of the Month cover model or the poster for the Magic Mike movie. I know what they had to do to get to look like that. It takes a brutal diet, exercise, the genes to put the abdominal cartilage in the right place to pull the abs into a six-pack, and personal trainers and dieticians of the kind you and I can't afford. Also I know they only look like that on the day of the shoot, since there's a fair amount of water loss involved to look that ripped. I don't mind that they look like that. If I put that much work in, I wouldn't look that good, but I sure would turn heads on the beach.

A man who trains and diets may have a look that's a little strained but it speaks of self-discipline and application, it speaks of manly virtues. A woman who trains in that way sends the same message, but those virtues are not feminine. There are a handful of mid-thirties to mid-forties women in media and PR who train hard to stay tight, but keep the body-fat higher than an athlete's so that they still look feminine. It's a narrow line to walk. But (model) just looks like that. She may keep those looks by eating sensibly, and doing some light circuits to stay tight, but by the look of her other photographs on Instagram, she doesn't do athletic training.

A model of Ms Somerfield's looks reminds most of us that we are settling with our choice of partner. However much we are aroused by them, and find them attractive in so many other ways, and however much we might not think about it, we are settling. Many people can live with this knowledge, as long as it remains unsaid and mainly invisible in their partner's behaviour. (I have roving eyes.)

But the body-positives don't want their partners to be settling. They know they are overweight, have short limbs and chubby fingers. They know they don't fit anyone's idea of even a Six. They know they aren't above the Pretty Line. Yet they want to be found attractive without reservation. And who can blame them? Most men know they can't spit sharp Game, don't do Bad Boy things, and don't have much of a sense of thier own direction, but want to be found attractive for who they are, not what they can provide, and who can blame them? Both are doomed to be disappointed, but I feel sympathy for both groups.

This is why the the funky Sevens and Eights, like Lili here, in c-heads can at times leave me in despair,

 or a stone 10 like Alejandra Guilmant

who occasionally pops up on Fashioncopious. Let alone Malgosia Bela in the 35th Birthday edition of i-D.

They remind me that if I were to set out again, my reaction would be to settle for yet another Six. Which I don't want to do and wouldn't like myself for doing. Just like the body-positives.

Speaking of living with oneself, recently I made an approach that to the only Eight that's passed through the office in a large number of years (Khazakstan via five years at an English university). I couldn't have lived with myself if I hadn't. But something happened between the time we arranged to meet for coffee and I was getting yes-please smiles, and the day we met. I was gently re-buffed, and she's blanked me since, but who cares? Sometimes you gotta do it, for your self-respect's sake.


  1. Great post. Especially the last sentence.

  2. One of the most important things to realise about approaching's not about you. You could approach two different girls in exactly the same way and get two completely different responses. And we've all encountered flakey girls, but there's no point complaining. A player complaining about flakey girls is like a sailor complaining about the sea.