Beginning Boutique’s response to swimwear controversy was a missed opportunity to discuss body diversity

Images via Beginning Boutique
Words by Bianca O’Neill

The brand’s labelling its detractors as ‘body shamers’.

Ah, the internet. It could be the source of so much knowledge and information and inspiration but instead, it seems to be the resting place for ugly fashion. RIP.

On that topic, Beginning Boutique’s latest swimwear campaign has caused quite a stir – featuring swimsuit models wearing impossibly high cut briefs that appear to be attached to an anatomically incorrect Barbie doll crotch.

Thousands of comments ensued – most of them hilarious – calling out the brand for vagina photoshopping, lack of realistic representation of ‘normal’ bodies… and basically just a really unattractive swimsuit design.

“Hmm, nice clit hammock. Sell anything for women with vaginas?” said one user, while another claimed they’d had a less intrusive pap smear that week. It was all pretty lighthearted and funny – but apparently, the bikini designers didn’t think so.

In a new Instagram post overnight (and a series of Stories), the brand has accused people of “body shaming” and tried to turn the focus around by encouraging everyone to get one of those aforementioned pap smears.

Sure, encouraging pap smears is a great message – but this is the completely wrong way to go about it.

Firstly, I spent quite a while reading hundreds of comments on these images and I didn’t personally see any examples of ‘body shaming’. I’m sure there may have been a couple but the entire thread was more focused on creating funny imagery of vaginas stuffed into impossibly small spaces, and more important things like lack of inclusivity and potential airbrushing.

If Beginning Boutique is trying to convince us that it’s pro-body diversity by busting out the old ‘body shaming’ accusation, then it must think we’re dumber than some of these comments.

In addition to that, the refusal to address the ‘missing labias’ issue shows that it’s more concerned with redirecting negative attention than assuring women that it’s perfectly normal to be in possession of a pair of vaginal lips.

How about it, I dunno, designs swimsuits that fit women’s normal bodies, rather than convincing women to wax, shove and bind their bodies to fit an unrealistic body standard that flies in the face of normal, human anatomy?

How about hiring a photographer that doesn’t place the model’s spreadeagled vagina at the centre of the image? That’s some Terry Richardson shit right there, if ever I saw it.

I find it hard to believe that a company which chooses to market its swimwear via provocative images of exclusively thin women pouring water on themselves in a G-rated attempt at a cum shot is a champion of women’s rights.

There were a million other ways Beginning Boutique could have (and should have) spun this.

How about releasing a version of the swimsuit for different body shapes? How about taking the time to discuss body diversity and the fact that the media’s representations of vaginas have been photoshopped for years? How about releasing a plus size range of swimmers to show it’s all about inclusivity?

How about a version that has a fuller crotch, and then making a joke about how it’s a better option for those of us who struggle with camel toe? I mean, at least I’d lol at that.

But no, it decided to chide us for rising up and calling out its bullshit with another bullshit claim.

#MeToo has meant that women’s voices are being heard now, more than ever. It means women feel empowered to call out unrealistic body representations – even if those representations are created by other women. And any company that attempts to silence them will feel their wrath.

Remember, ladies: we are now the masters of our labias. Unless we’re trying to get them into a Beginning Boutique swimsuit, that is.

Follow Bianca’s impressively large camel toe on Instagram over at @bianca.oneill.

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