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Everybody’s Loveable: especially if thin, sexy and covered in icecream

By Melinda Tankard Reist - posted Thursday, 23 September 2010


According to its website, Australian underwear brand Lovable says it is “dedicated to changing the culture surrounding eating disorders and body image”. It does this “by using happy, healthy models in our campaigns and promotional activities and by continuing to design intimates that are not created to objectify women’s bodies …”

I’m sorry, but I’m a bit confused.

Because I don’t understand how you change the culture with advertising like this.

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Like Girlfriend misusing the word “revolution” in its alleged new approach to body image (Girlfriend: we’re still waiting for the beauty revolution), Lovable is abusing the term “cultural change”.

Reinforcing not transforming cultural messages

Reinforcing cultural messages about the superiority of thin women who conform to conventional notions of beauty (with help from airbrushing and possibly even plastic surgery) doesn’t transform the culture.

Sexualising advertising designed to provoke certain responses in men doesn’t turn society upside down either.

It seems to me companies like Lovable are happy to spruik a love-your-bodies-we’re-all-beautiful-positive-self-esteem message, while not doing all that much. It has become an empty mantra. Can any corporation wear the badge of honour and become a sponsor of positive body image campaigns while at the same time harming the cause?

Lovable has a deal with a major eating disorders charity. That’s fine. I hope it gets lots of money. It’s also funding the recent Body Image & Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

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But the double standards around claiming to boost self-esteem in women and supporting positive body image, while acting in ways that undermine these messages, have to be exposed.

Lovable supposedly cares about poor body image, yet it continues to use ultra thin models - including supermodel and former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins.

As one woman in her 20s, who recovered from an eating disorder, wrote to me:

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About the Author

Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra author, speaker, commentator and advocate with a special interest in issues affecting women and girls. Melinda is author of Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief after Abortion (Duffy & Snellgrove, 2000), Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics (Spinifex Press, 2006) and editor of Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls (Spinifex Press, 2009). Melinda is a founder of Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation (www.collectiveshout.org). Melinda blogs at www.melindatankardreist.com.

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