Perhaps like me, you greeted those “empowering” photos of Loose Women in their underwear with a reflex-snort of “Oh, celebs stripping off, so what?” before a more primal urge took over. Like many women, I imagine, I took a good, long, comparative gawp. A gawp accompanied with a squishy underbelly of deep gratitude.
Janet Street-Porter, Coleen Nolan and an entire fleet of daytime dames have been photographed by Bryan Adams wearing only bras and pants, with the slogan “Look, but don’t retouch” in a bid to spread body positivity. There were legs, arms and bums there I could identify with, and that felt good.
No filter, no cropping, no stretching of limbs or faffing with Photoshop meant a lack of super-flat bellies or sleeker waists. I adore particularly that not one of these ITV ladies-off-the-telly has those tight Charlize Theron upper arms which speak of two dozen rip curls before an egg white breakfast and a day fannying about with kettlebells. Those Aniston, Madonna, Jennifer Beals in Flashdance arms which have tormented me for decades, as I’ve gazed each day at my own bleak appendages covered in skin which resembles a roughly assembled lorne sausage.
Inspiring body positivity quotes
Inspiring body positivity quotes
1/12 Kate Winslet
"Nobody is perfect. I just don't believe in perfection. But I do believe in saying, 'This is who I am and look at me not being perfect.' I'm proud of that."
2/12 Iskra Lawrence
Stop comparing yourself to anybody else. The [pictures of] movie stars, even the Disney characters, that’s not real. That’s not attainable. You can’t be anybody else. You are you. You can’t be them. So you really just have to start embracing yourself and accepting so-called flaws that society has given the name ‘flaws’. It’s just our body, our patchwork quilt.”
3/12 Jennifer Lawrence
"It should be illegal to call someone fat."
4/12 Ashley Graham
"And cellulite, I have not forgotten about you. I'm going to choose to love you even though you want to take over my whole bottom half. You're a part of me and I love you."
5/12 Demi Lovato
"Instead of looking in the mirror and focusing on your flaws, look in the mirror and appreciate your best features... everyone has them."
6/12 Danielle Brooks
"Sometimes I don't like what I see, but I have the power to change the way in which I relate to my body both physically and mentally."
"You just want something that someone else has, but that doesn't mean what you have isn't beautiful, because people always want what you have and you always want what they have - no one is ever 100 per cent like, 'Yes, I'm the bomb-dot-com - from head-to-toe!"
8/12 Kim Kardashian-West
"See this little dimple of cellulite here? It was so worth it for that cookies 'n' cream ice cream!"
9/12 Mindy Kaling
'Insults about the way I look can’t be the thing that harms me and my heart the most. It has to harm me the least. If I have a daughter, I’m going to tell her that. Far too many women are much more hurt by being called fat or ugly than they are by being called not smart, or not a leader."
"The most alluring thing a woman can have is confidence."
11/12 Selena Gomez
"I’m learning that you can be comfortable and still look beautiful.”
12/12 Tess Holliday
"Never compare yourself with others and celebrate what makes you, you."
There’s no argument here: this is brave for the Loose Women. When I imagine being forced into this “real me” shoot, I slip rapidly into an action plan of spray tans, juice-fasts, body exfoliation, followed by a secret support swimsuit and standing sideways-on with a thigh behind Linda Robson. Real, but still on my own terms. I’m sure many will accuse these celebs of self-indulgence and attention seeking, but for me a reminder that the human condition contains cellulite, droopy bums and caesarean scars will never be unwelcome.
Because despite my vintage and the common sense ageing allegedly brings, there will always be a part of my brain hardwired to hope for perfection. My cerebral matter processes the annual Victoria’s Secret show and then opts to skip dinner and breakfast before rattling me off around London starving. I cannot pick up women’s magazines, typically edited by other women, as the party pages full of strapless gowns spoil the day. I delete Instagram off my phone twice a week as ever-scrolling stories of supposed “Just woke up like this” natural beauty sends me slightly loopy.
I am a grown woman who knows we cannot teach our daughters, granddaughters and nieces to live happily with their moles, their puppy fat, their spreading hips and their droopy bits if we can’t abide our own. Considering this, the fact Saira Khan from Loose Women seems also to have a small belly which suggests she prefers an extra hour in bed rather than chiselling rock hard abs via turbo-planking, has cheered me up immensely.
Of course, this modern aversion to “real” is not a woman-only issue. One of the lesser-noted downsides of gender equality is that men have become as unhappy with “normal”. It is wrong for women to feel we have full ownership on body-angst when men are perpetually fed news of Tom Hardy and Channing Tatum’s workout schedule. Or live on a diet of Premier League gossip filled with hulking gods with gorgeous hair and costly eyebrow threading habits.
I will not attempt to explain in any acute detail the pressure among modern gay men to stay gym-fit, fresh-skinned and bright-eyed, but suffice to say those who age badly and fatten up may feel the process a “pretty rum do”. And for White Van Man, gone are the days of lumpen TV presenters like Saint and Greavsie, replaced by the toned, tanned likes of Gary Lineker. To the casual onlooker, Ant and Dec, Dermot O'Leary and Vernon Kay do not appear to own one spare ounce of fat among them.
Britain has ushered in an era of “No Carbs Until Marbs” lads holidays and made dozens of Geordie Shore bodybuilding berks into household names. All Marks & Spencer undies must be proffered beside a brooding poster of David Gandy. There is no room on Instagram, on Sky Sports News or on the Brits red carpet for male pattern baldness, short legs, chubby bellies or thin thighs. The modern man is as starved of “normal” as his female counterpart. He is as equally as sad about his salt and pepper hair and lack of six pack, as I am about my boobs which appeared to stop speaking to each other post-30.
The next logical step to improve national body image positivity, following the Loose Women shoot will be a cast of male TV stars, shot only in baggy underpants in harsh sunlight. I suggest Huw Edwards, Richard Osman, Rylan Clark-Neal and Ian Beale off EastEnders. Get’em off, blokes: your country really needs it.Reuse content