The Spanish government wants a summer of equality that includes a diversity of body types, particularly of women, “without stereotypes or aesthetic violence.”
That’s the reason behind the summer campaign by the Spanish Ministry of Equality and the Women’s Institute , via Twitter, to encourage women of all sizes and appearance to go to the beach and enjoy it.
“The summer is also ours” reads the slogan above the image of five diverse women of different shapes, sizes and colors — including a topless woman after a mastectomy, relaxing on the beach. The poster is an element of the campaign inviting women to enjoy the summer “how, where and with whomever you want.”
“Today we toast to a summer for all, without stereotypes and without aesthetic violence against our bodies,” said Irene Montero, Spain’s Minister of Equality. “All bodies are valid and we have the right to enjoy life as we are, without guilt or shame. Summer is for everyone!”
A summer without guilt or shame
Antonia Morillas, director of the Women’s Institute that created the campaign, criticized “physical expectations that discriminate and deny women rights,” adding that the initiative is an attempt to show that all bodies have validity.
“Diverse bodies, free of gender stereotypes, occupying all spaces,” she tweeted next to the photo of the campaign. “Summer also belongs to us. Free, equal and diverse. Body expectations are projected on women influencing not only our self-esteem, but the way we enjoy public spaces.”
“Every body is a beach body,” said Ione Belarra, leader of the Podemos political party, and Social Services Minister in Spain’s Socialist-led coalition government, which is also supporting the initiative.
The equality campaign which, as could be expected, has been severely criticized in social media and by conservative politicians for “promoting obesity” and for using ‘unnecessary’ public funds, has also become viral and received wide international attention.
“There are not a few who have questioned the importance and relevance of the slogan in favor of body positivity,” writes Publico.es in Spain. “The reaction of the international press has been very different. Far from being frightened by seeing the drawing of a woman with a topless mastectomy on a poster, they have wanted to highlight the action in support of body diversity undertaken by the Equality Ministry and the Women’s Institute.”
“Some wondered if it should be widened to include men without so-called standard bodies, while left-wing leader Cayo Lara said the campaign was the height of absurdity, trying to ‘create a problem where it doesn’t exist,’” the BBC reports.
Answering men who have said that fat women can go to the beach without the ministry’s permission, Ángela Rodríguez Pam, Secretary of State for Equality and Against Gender Violence, wrote: “Of course we go. But we’re assuming we’ll attract hatred for showing a body that isn’t standard.”
“All bodies are valid,” she added. “Remembering and validating them is a deeply political and feminist task.”
The equality campaign, according to publico.es “comes in a more than timely social context, just when the latest data reflects a worrying increase in the number of people with eating disorders in Spain.