Getting Naked In A Train Station

I reeeaaally like the summer you guys. I love hot weather, and pretty dresses, and basking in the sunshine like a lizard instead of doing productive things.

And in the summer, when the weather gets warm, parts of my body start to emerge from my clothes. Since I’m talking about my legs and chest and occasionally, if I’m feeling really wild, my midriff, as opposed to an extra head or some tentacles, I generally view this as no big deal. It wouldn’t really occur to me that I might have to somehow alter myself to be acceptable in public when the weather is nice. I mean, sorry if my jiggly thighs offend you, but…actually, I lied. I’m not sorry. They’re legs. You also have them. Avert your eyes if you must. But I’m not going to change myself, and I think most women are probably in the same boat.

So why, in the name of all that is holy, can I not walk 5 metres in this city without seeing the words “ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?” emblazoned across the wall?

Am I beach body ready? I mean, I think so? Does anyone look nice at the beach? I’m generally covered in sand with mental hair, shiny skin, not a scrap of makeup and boasting a sexy salmon pink colour. Am I supposed to look like this?

CDIVa35WMAEiYY_Middle finger kindly provided by my recent partner in crime, Tara (Catstello) from Zusterschap.

I’d seen this advert around, and something about it really grinds my gears. I know that there are a billion adverts like this around, but this was the one that pushed me over the edge. Sorry, Protein World, you were the unlucky straw that broke the feminist’s back. I don’t like the suggestion that I have to be “ready” for the beach. In my mind, getting beach body ready would involve slathering myself in suncream. I am so tired of the message that women have to make some kind of effort in order to be socially acceptable. Is this kind of guilt tripping and body shaming really the best way to shift your products? Why not run with a tagline about women feeling amazing on the beach? Or better yet, women being so confident that they don’t even give their body a second thought? Even a photo of a woman having a freaking awesome time on the beach, instead of this stony-faced statue, would have made it slightly better. But as is, I basically hate everything about this poster.

So when Catstello posted the picture above, I innocently dropped her a tweet and we started to hatch a plan.

Less than 24 hours later, I was standing in the middle of a crowded Charing Cross station, getting ready to take off most of my clothes.

How to get a beach body-Take your bodyWe agreed that we would pose in our bikinis next to the poster, just to let everyone know that we considered ourselves very much beach ready, and gorgeous to boot. I’ve had a lot of people compliment me on my confidence since posting this photo on Twitter, but to be honest, in those few seconds before I took off my dress, I felt like bursting into tears and having a heart attack simultaneously. But we cheered each other on. Despite having met literally the day before, we supported each other straight away, giggling through the awkwardness and even sending morning bikini selfies. And once those dresses came off, we were unstoppable. An awesome lady stopped to take our photos for us (if you ever see this, give us a wave!) and she congratulated us on what we were doing and told us we looked great. I felt great. The adrenaline fuelled giggles bubbled so close to the surface that it was hard to keep a straight face long enough to look annoyed for the photo. The bemused people walking past only served to make me giddier.

I don’t look like that model when I’m dolled up to the nines, never mind when I’m on the beach. My chest is flat enough that you could build an airport on it. My lifelong dedication to cakes and a digestive system that disagrees with everything mean that my stomach will probably never be concave. I have silvery stretchmarks webbing my hips and thighs, without the hourglass figure to go with them. But right there, in that moment, I felt sexy as hell.

CDNs1lkWYAAUBHISince coming home and posting the photo on Twitter, I have been absolutely bowled over by the reaction. We have had just one negative response, and that was from a guy who suggested we come fight in Afghanistan if we really want to advance feminism, so…ya know…not too fussed about that.

Protein World did favourite his tweet though, which was a bold move.

Every single other response (and incredibly, there have been hundreds), has been from people telling us that we’re brave, funny, smart and gorgeous. And you know what? I kinda think we are.

Am I beach body ready? You can bet your ass I am. And I don’t need meal replacements to get there. And neither do you. We’re already perfect.

 

Update! After receiving an absolutely mindblowing response to this from the general internet, and an absolutely appalling response from Protein World, Tara and I have teamed up with comedian Juliette Burton to organise an enormous beach body photo next weekend. Bring your friends, bring your bikinis and bring your sexy beach bodies. More details to follow in a separate post!

62 thoughts on “Getting Naked In A Train Station

      • Tom says:

        Hey Fiona, I have never heard of you or your blog before, but the HuffPo link on FB brought me here. Your moxie and outlook on life is a mind-blowing spray of awesome (as is your amazing body). I’m still looking for Tara’s blog, if I can’t find it, please pass this onto her for me. WHOA! She is just ace – what a babe! 🙂

        • fionalongmuir says:

          MOXIE! Best compliment ever. Tara’s blog is called Zusterschap and you can find her on Twitter @Catstello! She’s really great, I would highly recommend getting her in your life.

          • Mario says:

            So you “highly recommend” someone, who displayed hate to a healthy and fit model via the middle finger gesture? Is the model being comfortable in her skin so offensive to your partner in crime?

          • fionalongmuir says:

            It isn’t. In fact, we actually had a very sweet conversation with Renee Somerfield (the model in question) and found that we all actually think the same thing.

  1. nicola says:

    well done! you both look amazing. and that model probably doesn’t look like that model irl- airbrushing just means that the media sell an even more unrealistic concept of ‘perfection’ for us to aspire to.

    • fionalongmuir says:

      Hahaha that is so true, even the girl on the billboard doesn’t look like the girl on the billboard! Thanks so much for reading xxx

  2. I have never loved stringy beans and gym fascists, and you are making me wish I was 25 years younger. Luckily my wife is you-shaped and I fancy the pants off her and always have done. Bold move. I would love to buy you an ice-cream.

    • fionalongmuir says:

      Hey, if folks want to go to the gym and get bodies like that, more power to them, but it’s not for me! Buy your wife an ice cream and tell her she’s gorgeous 😉

  3. Perfect, perfect response to that terrible ad and good write up about the story too. More things like this please, standing up to advertisings terrible approach to body image.

        • Mario says:

          “I think assuming that a tiny hourglass is the only healthy body shape is the terrible approach”
          Only?Says who?What are your sources to make such a claim?The “tiny hourglass” if fits the BMI of the model, then how is that a problem?

          • fionalongmuir says:

            Mario, can I possibly suggest that you take up a hobby? Perhaps you would enjoy learning french, or trying crochet. I can’t help feeling like commenting on every single one of my posts and responses must take a lot of time. And I would hate for you to be spening so much time on something you consider to be unimportant and unworthy of attention.

  4. I saw these posters in the Tube when I was in London last weekend… is it bad that I’m so desensitized (is that how you spell it) to women being used weirdly in ads that I didn’t even mind? There’s an ad running on TV here in Germany where women are watching the German football team and commenting on their looks in a strange, objectifiying way, and then it’s supposed to be an ad for HD TV… it makes no fucking sense, and it is just one in a long line of ads that make me roll my eyes and then move on. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE what you did! You both look really amazing! But for some reason… I don’t know, I can’t seem to summon quite the same rage for this as I have for Fox casting Channing Tatum as Gambit. To be fair, I have a deep-seated, burning nerd-hatred for that particular casting choice, but still… is that bad?

    • fionalongmuir says:

      Hahahaha this really made me laugh. I don’t think everybody has to be outraged, in fact, I think if you can zone out these ads, that’s epic. It just so happened to get my goat on the wrong day, and here we are…in Charing Cross…in our bikinis.

  5. Mikey says:

    As a father of a teenage girl , these ads really piss me off promoting what women supposedly should aspire to , well done ladies for taking a stand

    • fionalongmuir says:

      Maybe. I don’t really mind. Their products were never the problem. We’ve gotten an alternative image of a beach body all over the world. That’s what this was about. But thanks for stopping by!

  6. John Burke says:

    Hey, I do see where you are coming from…but that ad is for protein powders? So that body probably is the end goal of many women who goes to gym and eating healthy alongside with the protein powders.

    The ads such as for the cosemtics using pretty women does annoys me as it does not reflect a everyday girl. Things like that. They use phototouched models for every ads nowadays really, and that’s really sad as the unrealistic expections are being places upon on women.

    So can you see where I’m coming from?

    Anyway you both looked good and fair play!

    • fionalongmuir says:

      Hi John,

      I can absolutely see where you’re coming from. I appreciate that they are a weight loss product, and it’s in their interest to promote a certain body type. What I dislike is that instead of using a caption that felt inspirational, focusing on how great you would feel after losing weight, they used one that, to me, suggested you should be unhappy with your body as it currently is. Does that make sense? With the photo, I wanted to show a different way to be beautiful. Also, the company’s response to the complaints has been absolutely sickening, so I’m glad I picked them. Thanks for reading!

    • Mario says:

      John

      No unrealistic expectations are placed on nobody. Advertisers are not saying this is how you should look.No legislation was passed for women to look a certain way.So if women feel unrealistic expectations are placed on them, then their perception is at fault and that is a problem of their own, because woman who are comfortable in their skin and with no insecurities wouldn’t give a damn about what image advertisers use and will not feel the need to protest, to expect the advertisers to boycott a healthy figure because it will insult a slightly curvier is self-centric and immature.

      • fionalongmuir says:

        Of course. Women are equal in law now, and that meant that all the inequality against them immediately ceased. I totally forgot that happened. Making a societal problem about one woman’s “insecurities” is a cheap and lazy way to play into the old “these hysterical wimmin getting het up over nothing” narrative. Good to see it’s still alive and well, makes me determined to keep fighting.

  7. Josh O says:

    A lot of feminists really grind my gears … But your responses to comments (especially to the guy who said he didn’t like skinny girls and gym-goers) show that you’re really down to earth. Fair play

    • fionalongmuir says:

      Thanks Joshua. In my experience, most feminists are totally awesome. Maybe it’s not feminists who grind your gears, just assholes? And they exist in every walk of life, unfortunately! Thanks for reading!

      • Josh O says:

        Most are great, but still they only fight against problems that directly affect them. If Id have once in my life seen feminists fighting for, say, men’s paternity rights or protesting male prison rapes.. Or even protesting womens oppression in the East, I would generally just have a lot more respect for them. But 99% of the time it’s just western women fighting for Western women problems, which is why I don’t immediately respect anyone that says “I’m a feminist

        XD

        • fionalongmuir says:

          Hey Josh, most of the feminists I know absolutely do campaign on causes like this. Many issues affecting men like this actually stem from misogyny as well: paternity rights are unequal because it’s expected that women should take care of the kids, male rape is taboo because it’s seen as something shameful that only happens to women. I’m not saying this to minimise these issues at all, just pointing out that when you think about it, we’re both actually on the same side. Feminists I know have campaigned on female genital mutilation, honour killings in India, forced marriage, trafficking of women, and countless other issues that affect women on the other side of the world. Don’t make the mistake of thinking we can only care about one thing at a time!

          • Mario says:

            Women in third world countries who make “this is what feminist looks like” T-shirt are exploited and are employed well under living wage, yet some of the self-proclaimed feminist politicians wore this T-shirt with deliberation and when this was exposed, I hardly saw any feminist protest here in the UK.
            While you are some what right that the radical fringe of feminism has lost sight of equality as the goal the fact remains that they have become the public face of feminism to many people.Equating rejection of feminism-as-perceived with rejection of feminism-as-defined-in-the-dictionary is a mistake.

          • fionalongmuir says:

            That story was actually proven to be untrue and the papers published an apology, I believe. But before that happened, I saw plenty of feminists campaigning for better working rights, especially as it came so soon after the collapse of the factory in Bangladesh.

  8. andrew says:

    Well done on what you have achieved through your actions! Hopefully companies will learn to use more positive messages of the human body to sell their products although in this instance the product is just a bad idea too.

    • Matt says:

      Positive? So fat is positive, skinny negative? You must appreciate that that makes no sense. It is a straightforward disagreement, some women want to be fat, some skinny. Those who wish to be skinny won’t deem themselves beach ready until they are (and this product might interest them) and others won’t be interested in changing their appearance, these are therefore also beach ready.

      It really is entirely preference. ‘Positive’ body images vary from woman to woman.

      Girls are either happy with their weight in which case there is no need to insulate them from such an ad, or not happy in which case they should consult protein world and no McDonalds.

      • fionalongmuir says:

        I don’t think I said anywhere that skinny was negative. In fact, being a rather tiny size 8 myself, that would be an absurd position for me to take. All I want to do is provide an alternative image for women who see adverts like this and feel like they’re not good enough. And I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that.

  9. Matt says:

    You have achieved literally nothing. This petulant protest is misguided, nonsensical and censorious. In this advert protein world are advertising weight loss aides, if you’re not interested in them, then yes, you are already beach-ready.

    So what’s the problem? For others they don’t yet deem themselves beach ready and that is completely up to them. Stop pretending you speak for all women, you don’t and stop patronising women as if they’re too delicate to so much as be exposed to an alternative preference of body shape. You have made the choice to be chubby, it does not mean that everyone wishes to be.

    This is straight forward authoritarianism. Don’t call it feminism.

    • fionalongmuir says:

      Thanks for an interesting response, Matt. Despite getting the feeling that you’re not going to listen to my response, given how much you’ve misunderstood my original stance, I’d like to respond. I’d like to direct your question back at you. I took a photograph of myself feeling beach ready, to provide an alternative picture to the one on the advert, and shared it on my personal twitter and blog. I organised an event where other men and women were welcome to do the same. What is it about these actions that has caused you to start hurling insults? Is the idea of women being comfortable in their bodies, or occupying public space so offensive to you?

      I’m not delicate, and I think I’ve proven that this week. The image on the poster is not an alternative. It is the same picture we see on every single billboard, in every single TV show. The photograph that I took is the alternate.

      I particularly enjoy your leap to authoritarianism. Can you point to one single thing I have done that is authoritarian in nature?

      • Mario says:

        ” It is the same picture we see on every single billboard, in every single TV show”
        And how is that a problem? Is the image anorexic? No. Is the image fit and healthy? Yes.Yet, promoting healthy and toned body is wrong? How? As a medical student I understand the complications of being obese/fat and glad such an unhealthy image is not promoted.

        “Can you point to one single thing I have done that is authoritarian in nature?”
        Shaming the model who is perfectly comfortable in her skin as “stony faced statue” and demanding the individuals behind the advertisement to do as you please, with no regards to their freedom of expression is authoritarian.
        You have the right to provide an alternative image, so do the advertisers. What may seem ” beach ready” to you maybe different to the advertisers and they were only expressing themselves.

        You have the right to protest but you have no right to demand individuals in business to create content to suit your opinions.

        • fionalongmuir says:

          The picture that we see is more than “fit and healthy”. The woman we see represented is tall, thin, white, hourglass shaped, big boobs, big hips, tiny waist, flat stomach, long legs, long hair, beautiful face. Call me crazy (and I’m sure you will), but I think you can be fit and healthy without fitting into this ridiculously narrow ideal.

          As I said on your last comment, I have never intended to shame Renee Somerfield. In fact, we’ve had a very sweet chat about it, and we actually have the same position. Also, I never demanded that the adverts be taken down. All I did was take a photograph, share it on my personal channels and allow people who wanted to share it to share it. But please, don’t let my actual views get in the way of your argument.

          • Mario says:

            By saying “ridiculously narrow ideal”, you simply target the body shape in a negative way.Which contradicts the fact that we should all be happy in our own bodies?Also tall,thin,tiny waist, flat stomach, long legs, long hair and beautiful face are just not characteristics of a fit physique, it shows a woman with dedication, discipline, self respect, dignity, patience and passion for a healthy life style.These could only be an insult to those with insecurities.

            Also nobody is forcing these “ideals” to anyone, if the problem is the constant bombardment of a particular type of body image (which is healthy), I strongly believe that women who do not fit that physique are strong enough to tolerate, simply disagree and move on with their lives.And still do not understand why it would upset the radical feminists, unless they believe women are fragile, vulnerable to body images that don’t fit theirs and need to be overprotected and told what is right or wrong.

            Oh just to let you know, I never said you wanted the image to be taken down, I said demanding the advertisers to suit your narrative is authoritarian.

          • fionalongmuir says:

            I don’t think it does. I’m saying those are bizarrely specific requirements to put on the whole female species. I don’t think dignity makes you grow. And no amount of discipline in the world is going to give me boobs like Renee’s. I also didn’t demand that the advertisers change to suit my narrative. Although I hope that in the future, advertisers will learn to respect their audiences a bit more.

  10. This ad campaign really pissed me off! I use protein powder, as I’m into working out and am trying to slim down a bit, but my body is still a beach body as it is! I hate this marketing relying on shaming women into buying their products.

    • fionalongmuir says:

      Thanks so much for reading, Lena! Exactly, why not focus on how great the people who choose to slim down will feel, use a positive emotion rather than shame? The company’s response has been sickening as well, I’ve been so disgusted with pretty much everything they’ve said.

  11. Eloise says:

    Your campaign against this is honestly the most inspiring thing. Thank you for standing up to the misogynists and I only wish I had known about this in time to go to the Hyde Park event. I am only 14 but my dream is to write feminist articles for women’s magazines and this is exactly the kind of campaigns we need more of; where like-minded women and girls can stand up to sexism and say what they believe is right. Thank you.

    • fionalongmuir says:

      Thank you so much Eloise! I am so, so thrilled that young girls like yourself are starting to embrace feminism and recognise that you deserve more from the media. A couple of sites that you might want to check out (and even submit to once you’re a bit older): the Vagenda, Standard Issue, XOVain (beauty, but often with a feminist twist), the F Word. Growing up a feminist can be a rough ride, so if you ever need someone to chat to, just drop me an email x

  12. Justin Megawarne says:

    I support this response but mainly because it’s idiotic to expect everyone to look the same and idiotic to expect people to only value one aesthetic. What I don’t support is the infantilization of our fellow citizens through the implication they must be protected from idiocy because they might feel guilty or ashamed by what idiots are saying.

    The importance of stupid people saying stupid things as loud as possible is vastly underrated, in my estimation. What better way to identify those people by letting them scream their absurdities loud and clear from the rooftops? They will do the hard work of discrediting themselves, and we can point, laugh and get on with real life, in much the same way we do with conspiracy theorists or doomsayers.

    But the obvious consequence is that we have to be much more resilient about what we’ll see and read. Mockery, irony and parody are powerful forms of resilience, but indignation and taking offence is quite weak and defensive in comparison. “How to get a beach body: take your body to the beach” is a brilliant response, whereas “my body is already good enough, thank you very much” smacks of humiliation and seems withering.

    I encourage everybody to give stupidity the attention it deserves: ridicule and derision. Not hurt, upset and pain. And I encourage everybody to steel themselves against the magnitude of stupidity that is inevitable in a large society filled with complex people, instead of expecting a mob to protect us from it.

    I appreciate that’s not an easy task, but surely it should be our ideal.

    • fionalongmuir says:

      I don’t think I was infantilising people. I just wanted to provide a different picture of beauty for them to look at. I’ve had a lot of people say I’m patronising women by suggesting that they would let an advert affect them, but to be honest, if marketing didn’t affect us, it wouldn’t be a multi billion dollar industry. I think we definitely need voices to be holding things like this up and saying “nope, this isn’t okay”.

      I didn’t feel humiliated at all by what we did, and I don’t think the people who joined us did either. At least I hope not! The event we threw was incredibly positive and awesome, and turned a body shaming ad into a big body positive love-fest. It’s definitely still an ongoing conversation, but I think there’s more than one way to effectively take stuff like this advert down. Thanks for reading, and for a really interesting comment!

  13. Joe says:

    Why is body fat glorified in America? Women ARE more attractive when they are thin. That doesn’t mean the heavier people should be bullied. But you shouldn’t take pride in it either.

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