Women are ashamed of their bodies. You only have to open a women’s magazine to be told that. Just between a feature extolling the joys of the new Cellulite Busting Cream the even newer Detox Diet (which they assure us is different from last year’s version), nowadays there’ll also be a charming article despairing about our women-folk feeling bad about their bodies.
Even the good people at Nivea (who naturally always have your best interests at heart) are concerned. They’ve done research on the matter. Their Confidence Index Survey proudly proclaims that 54% of women are worried about their tummy while wearing a bikini. And that, get this, women feel more confident when given a compliment by a friend.
All this maths got the gals at Nivea Towers very excited. If one teeny tiny compliment is capable of making all those women feel better, how about loads of huge compliments? With enough compliments, Nivea decided that all those women whom Dove failed to make feel beautiful would soon be charging down the beach wearing little more than a triumphant smile and her new found confidence.
If only there was a way to show off these women, they sighed, wringing their perfectly moisturised hands together in despair, somewhere public. They sat, and mulled the matter over, stopping only to reapply their lip-balm. At length, an intern pops her head around the door and asks if it’s okay if she feeds the meeting-room fish, as they’ve been in there for sixteen hours and she needs to go home.
The gals’ eyes lock. One of them even drops her lip-balm in excitement. That’s it!
I may have been watching too much Mad Men (okay, I’ve definitely been watching too much Mad Men), but that’s the best explanation I can come up with as to why I stumbled upon an oversized fish tank in the middle of Covent Garden. It was surrounded by a set of perky promo staff inviting women to jump in. I’m sorry, that’s not quite right. They dared women to jump in.
They were then asked to pose for photos and questioned on their psychological reasons for making the jump before signing any rights on their images over, in exchange for a free towel and some goodies. All in aid of showing women that they should not be ashamed of their bodies.
All sounds rather commendable, doesn’t it? Or at least it would if it wasn’t such a load of utter bollocks.
Call me a cynical troll, but when a company starts flooding their Facebook page with photos featuring the most photogenic participants, my bullshit radar starts a-clanging. As Nivea are happy to tell you, women of all shapes and sizes took part. And they did. I stood there, watching the proceedings for a good long time, and managed to spot… Oooh, at least two women larger than a size twelve during the forty minutes or so I was there. But their presence in the promo shots seems to be a touch, well, invisible.
Instead we are greeted by the image of Emma, looking confident now that she has Dared to Dip. And lost all her pregnancy weight. That too. Congratulations Emma, Nivea proclaim. Not for the birth of her child, but on losing all those unattractive extra pounds.
Elsewhere we have a ‘lovely lady’ wrapped up in a towel, smiling for the camera. This ‘lovely lady’ doesn’t get name checked, but Nivea are good enough to tell us she has a wonderful attitude. So wonderful I hope she doesn’t mind that they used the file name: oldlady2.jpg for her photo. I’m not sure that’s a Nivea-approved compliment.
These photos are an important record of who was involved with the project, as standing in the piazza where the event took place, it was pretty hard to tell who these women were. The towering pool ensured that while the participant’s bodies were on display to whoever fancied having an ogle, their faces, up above the waterline, were hidden from view by the white safety foam. Now I have nothing against safety foam, Health and Safety is a wonderful thing and we should all be grateful for it, but whoever designed the pool clearly didn’t make showing off women as anything other then a set of tits and arses a big priority.
Still, it was all in a good cause: that elusive Body Confidence. And if women need show off their assets in the middle of London, then what’s the fucking big deal? That’s what Shea Wong, a participant and mummy blogger, had to say. “I *do* so love when women tell me what’s best for me, in the spirit of feminism. Nice change from when men tell me in spirit of misogyny.” Hard to argue with that, but let’s give it a go.
The Fucking Big Deal is Nivea did not build a jolly swimming-pool, they built an aquarium.
The Fucking Big Deal is that they made a point of showing off the participant’s bodies, but not their faces.
The Fucking Big Deal is that the promo shots afterwards focussed on the slim and attractive, insinuating body-confidence should be the right of those with the kind of body to be confident about.
The Fucking Big Deal is that they managed to find the time to categorise a women as old, but neglected to jot down her name.
The Fucking Big Deal is that this event was aimed at women and women alone, making a lech-fest when there should only have been fun. If they’d really wanted men involved, they’d have advertised for them. They didn’t.
The Fucking Big Deal is that confidence is now a commodity that they are trying to sell.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to test out my new bottle of Cellulite-Be-Gone before hitting the pool, because I’m that fucking brave.
Oh, and if you feel like letting your feelings about this campaign be known on Nivea’s Facebook Page, you can doggy paddle over to it here.