Mainstream media takes up the issue
The Lovable/Jen Hawkins/body image issue has now gone well beyond these humble blog pages.
I spent a significant part of yesterday being interviewed on the subject. Susie O’Brien gave it a good run both as a news piece and a comment piece spread across two pages in the Herald Sun. An extract from the first:
LOVABLE lingerie company has come under fire for using thin Jennifer Hawkins in a sexy campaign, while professing to help women combat poor body image.
The Australian underwear company says it is “dedicated to changing the culture surrounding eating disorders and body image” and wants to reverse “the influence of celebrity and model culture”.
And yet it is using the former Miss Universe extensively in its advertising.
The company is donating a quarter of online sales profits this month to The Butterfly Foundation, a body image issues and eating disorders support centre.
Women’s issues campaigner Melinda Tankard Reist, who first raised the issue on her website, said the company was hypocritical in its approach.
In a post on the issue she attacks the company for displaying “double standards around claiming to boost self-esteem in women and supporting positive body image, while acting in ways that undermine these messages”.
“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,” she said.
“It has become an empty mantra.” Read the full story here
And the opinion piece:
Jennifer Hawkins lingerie ploy is hypocrisy, says Susie O’Brien
TAKE a look at this saucy, sexy woman selling Lovable lingerie.
What part of this picture is helping improve young women’s body image, do you think?
In my view, absolutely nothing.
In fact, some women who have low self-esteem will feel worse about themselves when faced with these near-naked pictures of Jennifer Hawkins and her tall, slim, tanned body.
So it’s the height of hypocrisy for Australian lingerie company Lovable to try to buy credibility with female customers by donating 25 per cent of the online sales profits to The Butterfly Foundation.
In fact I think the campaign could be decidedly damaging to the very cause the foundation is committed to – helping women with eating disorders and body image problems.
And, it must be said, what the hell is The Butterfly Foundation doing accepting money from a lingerie company that uses a famously slim, busty model plastered all over its advertising? Read full piece here
NineMSN also picked up the story, in a piece by Ali Best.
Lovable under fire for ‘double standards’
The Lovable lingerie brand has been slammed for partnering with an eating disorder organisation to combat unhealthy body images.
The Australian lingerie company has pledged to donate 25 percent of all of their online profits this month to The Butterfly Foundation.
But critics accuse Lovable of hypocrisy for using former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins in advertising campaigns while also claiming to help women battle poor body image.
Women’s issues campaigner Melinda Tankard Reist addressed the supposed double standards in a blog post last week entitled ‘Everybody’s Loveable: especially if thin, sexy and covered in ice cream’.
Reist told ninemsn she didn’t mean to “gun” the Butterfly Foundation but rather companies who she claims do little for body image issues despite claiming they do.
“There is a contradiction involved,” Reist said.
“[Lovable] is giving the appearance of social responsibility while not actually doing anything.”
Lovable’s website declares its backing of the Butterfly Foundation “in support of Eating Disorder research, support services, awareness and prevention programs.”
But directly underneath this the homepage reads: “Check out the hot new TV ad featuring Jen Hawkins.”
The ad shows Hawkins modelling a range of underwear while suggestively licking an ice cream, drinking a milkshake and staring alluringly into the camera…
Reist told ninemsn that a number of women have contacted her saying that they feel “unlovable” after seeing the ads.
One woman said she hated the ad more than any other because it “tears at her self-esteem.”
Reist has warned of the dangers for The Butterfly Foundation in accepting high profile corporate sponsorship from a brand that promotes bodily perfection in its advertising.
“They need to have a good, hard think about it,” she said. “It’s undermining their core message…”
Lovable could not be reached for comment. Read the full story here.
It’s because we’re jealous and stuffing our face with cheezels
These stories and coverage elsewhere outraged Jen Hawkins fans, who accused me – and those who agreed with me- of being fat, lazy, jealous, ugly slobs (among the words which were printable). Jen was hot, hot hot and I needed to get more exercise. Some of my personal faves from the Herald Sun comments section:
“Here we go again, someone who’s years are past them, and gravity has taken over having a good old whinge again”.
”Let me guess…Melinda is fat”
“People like Melinda Tankard are why girls and women now think it is ok to be fat, overweight, and unhealthy”.
“…more complaints from fat and overweight women that would rather die on their sofa eating cheezels and watching reality TV”
These comments brought to mind this piece by Dannielle Miller about how it’s so much easier to insult and ridicule someone you disagree with than to engage the arguments.
Not fit to be loved
But these were more than outweighed by intelligent and thoughtful comments. Like this, also in HS comments:
[Comment From Peter]
My daughter has an eating disorder, and while Jen Hawkins is beautiful, it sends the wrong message to her, to associate Jen Body image with the Butterfly foundation.
And this from Tabitha, in blog comments on my site
OK, having read the comments on this article I feel compelled to add my two and sixpence. I’d like to add that as backup for some of the things I’m about to say – I used to be a personal trainer, and I am currently a doctor.
Firstly I completely agree with the article about the hypocrisy of Lovable sponsoring the Butterfly Foundation. The fact that you can click on the Lovable link on the BF website and be taken to an ad with Jen Hawkins slinking all over the place covered in icecream just absolutely astounds me.
And for those who don’t understand why it’s a problem if the company are providing finance for a good cause, this is why: I’m not talking about people who are carrying a bit of extra weight. I’m talking about eating disorders. People who have eating disorders suffer daily under the feeling that they are not thin enough or attractive enough to be loved or desired. They feel this to such an extent that people throw up or starve themselves until they die over trying to get thin enough. Organisations like the Butterfly Foundation are designed to be a place of safety and support for people who feel this way, one voice telling them that being their own weight is ok and is good enough as long as they are healthy. And that the purpose of their existence is not to be attractive – it’s to enjoy their own life. Lovable is a company which both exploits women as sexual objects to sell products, and represents Jennifer Hawkins as its ideal. Even their “fuller figure DD” bras are sold with pictures of people with JH type of body. For the BF to associate with this company tells people with body image issues (and in fact all of us) that this is what it considers a healthy body, and that it has no problem with the sexualisation of women. This is an enormous betrayal of those the Butterfly Foundation claims to support…
People are tending toward being overweight and if it does harm your health then that’s a problem. But many comments have implied that if we disagree with Jen Hawkins weight, then we are advocating people being overweight. Do you understand the ridiculousness of that statement? JH is 180 cm tall and weighs 57kg. This gives her a BMI of 17.5 which is considered dangerously underweight. Then in addition she is airbrushed for these ads. There are thousands of people in Australia who have perfectly healthy BMIs between 20-25 (myself included – I am 173cm and weigh 63kg who end up feeling like we are actually OVERweight, because of ads like this). And as a personal trainer I happen to know that that weight is, as well as being unhealthy, almost unattainable for most women unless they do indeed begin to stave themselves, or throw up what they do eat. SO are we being encouraged to have poor body image and develop eating disorders? Your call. But in the shouting about whether people should be fat/thin/allowed to advertise how they like etc, try to remember the thousands of people in our society who are literally starving themselves to death because we continue to allow them to be told that they are not fit to be loved.
The critique I and others have made is not about jealousy or personal insecurity. It’s not personal at all. And it’s not that some women need to ‘get over themselves’. It is about analysing harmful messages and shining a light on double standards in current body image campaigns. It’s about deconstructing an ad campaign by a company that wants to be at the forefront of cultural change while running ads featuring (in their words) “hot” pics of an “enviable” supermodel presented as a male porn fantasy stereotype. I just don’t think you can have it both ways. That’s all.