A few days after performing at the UEFA Champions League Final Opening Ceremony and just before continuing on his tour Family, the singer Camila Cabello (25 years old, Cojímar, Cuba) enjoyed a vacation on the coast of Naples. It was during this period that the British tabloid Daily Mail published some photographs taken by a paparazzi of the artist on a yacht near Positano, wearing an orange bikini while taking a few dips in the sea. With the excuse of celebrating that Cabello “showed his curves” in his “blatant exhibition with a tiny orange bikini”, the British newspaper published a total of 16 photographs that received all the attention that the medium could hope to receive. User comments soon arrived, and many of them fell into the so-called body shaming (make someone ashamed of their body) or the fierce criticism of Cabello’s body, which they described as “disgusting”, “obese”, “flabby” and “full of cellulite”. Some users had the audacity to recommend Camila Cabello, a woman capable of singing and dancing on stage for an hour and a half, to join the gym.
Immediately, other media published the photographs of Camila Cabello, making an attempt to defend the singer with more or less success. The Univisión media published a piece entitled: “Camila Cabello showed off her curves and cellulite with a bikini: she is no longer worried about criticism.” Other headlines followed this same line: “Camila Cabello gives a message of her own love: she wears a bikini and impacts her real body”; “Camila Cabello gives a lesson about her by showing her natural body and without retouching.” The problem with this rhetoric is that Camila Cabello was not bragging about anything, or sending a message: she was simply spending a day at sea with her family. As one Twitter user commented in a tweet that went viral: “Lessons in self-love, exist, go on vacation, have a body, they say?”
“Deep down, these messages with a more positive tone have the same effect: they are a reminder of what is not within the standard,” says Raquel Carrera, activist, co-creator of the body positivity platform SoyCurvy and co-author with Lidia Juvanteny from the book The revolution of self-love, “a person is not brave to show a body that is not up to standard. The fact of emphasizing that showing a body outside the canon is a brave or instructive attitude occurs because, deep down, body diversity is not yet accepted. It is not accepted that the vast majority of women have cellulite or that women in swimsuits have tightness, sagging or love handles. This is to deny the bodily reality of women and force them to maintain the demand that they must always be perfect, even in a relaxed posture on the beach. This message is the opposite of empowering.”
“It is not accepted that the vast majority of women have cellulite or that women in swimsuits have tightness, sagging or love handles. This is to deny the bodily reality of women and force them to maintain the demand that they must always be perfect, even in a relaxed posture on the beach. This message is the opposite of empowering.”
It is not the first time that Camila Cabello’s body has been put on trial in the media and networks. In 2019, some photographs were published in which Cabello enjoyed a day on the beaches of Miami with her partner at the time, singer Shawn Mendes. On that occasion, she ran into criticism about her body through social networks. Cabello did not hesitate to respond to the comments through her Instagram account: “I have not been on social networks because I have the firm intention of avoiding things that can hurt my feelings, but for a second I forgot, and my eyes, accidentally, saw the comments of body shaming”, wrote the singer, “I write this for girls like my little sister who are growing up through social media and constantly see doctored and edited images and think that this is reality. And everyone’s eyes get used to these types of images and suddenly, they think that this is the norm. It’s not, it’s fake. Girls, cellulite is normal. Fat is normal. We have a very unrealistic image of the female body.”
Recently, various experts have pointed out that income from Eating Disorders (ED) has skyrocketed by 20% during the pandemic, in part due to the huge number of images of perfect bodies that young people are exposed to through social networks. . 90% of those affected by this type of disorder are still women. Camila Cabello addressed the public that she had to hear that message.
Just nine weeks ago, Cabello reflected on this issue again on networks when she had to pose in a swimsuit for a photographer and acknowledged that comments about her body had deeply affected her in the past: “I remember how shocked I was to realize that he was thinking through a whole culture of other people’s thoughts and not his own. A culture that has become so accustomed to an image of what a woman’s body should be that is completely false for many women.
“We have turned the discourse around to return to the same message as always, which is that no woman is enough”, reflects Raquel Carrera, “Is Camila Cabello not enough selling millions of records, always appearing in the rankings most listened to on Spotify and starring in movies because you have cellulite? What should the rest of us think then? The activist points out the danger of these new messages that, under the false formula of celebrating diverse bodies, sibylline affect the same prejudice, where bodies like Camila Cabello’s continue to be the exception and the rarity, and showing them is an act of “bravery”, “acceptance” or “self love”. The message that reaches the end user is that, if you have a body like Camila Cabello’s, showing it without shame is quite daring.
The photographs of Cabello en bikini are, to begin with, images over which the artist herself has no control or decision and over which she has not given any consent for their publication. The fact that Camila Cabello enjoyed a day at the beach does not have to become a debate about health or beauty, nor be an embarrassing or inappropriate matter; nor why become an emblem of empowerment or a sobering element. She should be just what she is: a woman enjoying a day at the beach.
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