What is the first thought in your head when I say the term beach/bikini body? Thanks to the history of pop culture chances are that this description will unfold before your eyes – a slim-waisted woman with contoured legs, golden skin and rock hard abs with thick hair floating in the wind, running in slow motion on a beach. From every single Bond girl to Bollywood actress in a bikini scene, the list which is far away from reality goes on. Sadly, this toxic term continues to force women to conform to their bodies according to societal expectations. And, that’s why we need to talk.
Rise Of The ‘Bikini Body’
You would think that the concept is self-explanatory, but is it? In order to wear a bikini, there are ground rules in place – one must have a toned butt, full (but not too large) breasts, tiny waist, waxed or lasered skin, no stretch marks or blemishes of any kind created for the convenience of the male gaze. But where did the concept grow from?
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The term was popularised by an advertisement campaign in the 1960s called “Slenderella” which essentially encouraged women to look like the aforementioned description. The message was as subtle as a knife, look slender and toned or don’t wear a bikini. The so-called “revolutionary” phrase has since traumatised women across the globe.
Pressure Of Social Media
Across both entertainment and advertisement industries #bikinibody has played as a catalyst to capitalism, at the cost of women’s rights on their own bodies. Even today, if you Google the term, or look up the hashtag on Instagram, 90 per cent of the results will show you the conventionally hot and lean blonde/brunette grinning from ear to ear. In this sea of pictures, we can find someone relatable or authentic only if we squint.
Online bullying can be blamed for this search result as anonymous comments tell us to lose weight, hit the gym or simply say the three magical words “you are fat”. While this is one side of the coin, globalisation has indeed given women a platform to voice their opinions and fight for their rights. And yes, choosing how you look is a basic right and no one should tell you otherwise.
Constructive Celebrity Culture
Thanks to celebrities and the wave of #bodypositivity accepting that you don’t need to squeeze into the same jeans ten years apart is part of the conversation. It’s nothing to boast about because your body is supposed to change over decades. Trailblazers like Ashley Graham, Lizzo, Mindy Kaling and Amy Schumer among others are continuing to shatter the glass ceiling one Instagram post at a time and we are here for it.
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While rallying behind these stars it’s high time we broke the oppressive mould that tries to fit women inside outdated stereotypes and write a new narrative. However, the fact remains – no matter how far we may have come to reject the resurgence of the bikini body, it’s an uphill battle before we make it socially acceptable for everyone to feel comfortable sans pressure or judgement.