By Dr Gemma Commane, Lecturer in Media and Communications at Birmingham City University’s School of Media
Women are more than just the sum total of their bodies, but public commentary (from both men and women) brings us back to one central issue. The issue is that women’s bodies are always scrutinised and seen as public property, no matter what shape or size.
The freedom to ‘comment’ on women’s bodies, is problematic as it takes away rights and women’s choices about the ways in which they want to express themselves. It is, however, easy to see why the particular image (captured by a Twitter user) has caused such controversy, particularly in light of other campaigns that celebrate women with curves.
The most important question we have to ask is: is the outrage aimed towards Zara, or are people body-shaming the young women in the campaign poster? We cannot forget that the young models freely chose to be in the campaign and have the right not to be body-shamed, no matter their size or shape.
Yes, it can be an issue when a campaign uses super-thin models, as we can be worried about their health. We must, however, not simplify issues around ‘weight’ as there are a range of social, cultural and individual contexts that can affect the ways in which people relate to their bodies.
In any case, the free advertising Zara has gained from the publicity will surely line their pockets nicely: this is another interesting effect of social media and people’s interactivity on it.
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