Dublin: 15 °C Saturday 31 October, 2020

As summer kicks off, let's remember Victoria Beckham discussing how the media views womens bodies

Be kind to yourself this summer.

IT’S THE MOST wonderful time of the year for those of sun, sea and sangria lovers. We’re in the throes of Leaving Cert weather (shout out to the 6th years!) and we’re beginning to shed layers and embrace that sweet sweet vitamin D.

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(Image of us at the Pav tbh).

But with the layer-shedding and the body-parading and the general increase of skin-showing, some of us can get a little self-conscious. And that’s ok! Your feelings are absolutely valid and while many may not see your hang-ups as being true or definitive, it doesn’t mean you won’t still feel like shite about them.

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We have the Love Island contestants being paraded before us on social media, all delighted to be benefiting from having society’s idea of bodily perfection. And then we’re told not to compare ourselves to them because it’s bad feminism! “Love your damn self!” “Stop comparing yourself to others!”

We know. But it’s easier said than done, fam.

Summertime is prime time for the media to profit off of your shitty feelings. It got me thinking about this clip from Victoria Beckham’s Channel 4 documentary Victoria’s Secrets, released 18 years ago. (You can watch it here, with her comments coming in around the 21:58 mark).

In a clip from the doc, Victoria is seen poring over tabloid newspapers as discuss her changing body shape with some vitriol. (Victoria was 26 at the time). A page in the Daily Mail was emblazoned ‘Skeletal Spice’.

I think that’s really, really vicious to be honest with you. Bear in mind this picture was taken at 12 o’clock in the day, on a sunny day. Then how come half my body is shaded?


A couple of pages after this ‘story’, Victoria points out an article titled, ‘Lose A Stone In A Flash’.

And they tell me that I’m responsible for this? People need to look what they’re doing and who really is to blame with weight problems. I think you’ll find the media put a lot of pressure on people, one minute telling them they’re too fat, one minute they’re too thin.
We never ever stick up for ourselves, or say anything about it. We always just say ‘ok, carry on’. Why not this time? I’ve had enough.

First off, a couple of disclaimers – Victoria obviously experiences one-end of the body-shaming spectrum, in that she does not experience the oppression – and potentially the level of derision – that plus-size women face. However, that doesn’t negate her experience of having her body hyper-analyzed and her worth evaluated as a result of this.

The year 2000 might as well have been a different eon for media coverage of celebrity culture – the word ‘plus-size’ definitely wasn’t in mainstream use, and the media narrative surrounding the celebrity aesthetic was dominated by the main players, like the Mail and The Sun. They were very any highly publicised challenges of this destructive kind of dialogue.

However, Posh’s points and mine are as follows, for the next time you find yourself “checking yourself” in your bikini or otherwise:

  • While the tide is turning, media outlets continue to pander to the emotionally vulnerable and impressionable. For the most part, they are not concerned with your feelings or helping you. Recognise their goal here and separate yourself emotionally from that.
  • You don’t have to be perfectly happy with your appearance all the time. You are not going to look “good” all the time, be it yourself or others. Someone is always going to have something to say – understanding that means moving forward and livin’ yo’ best life.
  • There is obviously more to life than aesthetics, but it’s still ok to be affected by them.
  • Weight isn’t an indicator of personal health. It’s also nobody else’s business.

TL;DR – give yourself a break. Wear a bikini, have a Callipo, read a magazine and don’t give a f*ck.

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