I’m A Celeb – The body-bashing commences

So, even if you’re not watching ‘I’m a Celeb’ – I’m only watching the trials now and again – reality TV is so prevalent in today’s media that you can’t help but be exposed to what’s going on, whether you’re interested or not.

As usual, a somewhat confused mix of Z-listers entered the jungle once again the other week to face the scrutiny of the public. Following a long-trusted format, there’s the slightly mad ones, the older ones, the controversial ones, the pretty ones, and the ones you wonder why the hell they needed/wanted to go in there. The latter one of these, for me, is Rebecca Adlington.

2 times Olympic Gold Champion, record breaker and an inspirational role model for young women everywhere, when 2013’s line up was revealed I really did struggle to see why Rebecca feels she belongs amongst the failed, forgotten and frankly  talentless ‘stars’ down under. Ours is not to reason why.

Inevitably, there is eye-candy placed in the jungle and this series is no exception to the long standing yearly tradition of the ‘bikini in the shower’ ogling. The jungle’s current sex symbol for the lads is undeniably beautiful Amy Willerton, Miss Great Britain competitor, who is more than comfortable posing in a bikini. Some are blessed with good genes; others with lots of money to spend on looking good. Whatever their reason, I have nothing against them. What I have a problem with is the unfavourable comparisons now emerging between Amy and Rebecca in the media.

Of course, reality TV by nature is shallow, and Rebecca has after all chosen to be a part of this and in turn exposed herself to any sort of bad publicity that heads her way. That said, the ‘news’ coming out of the jungle really only serves to prove how shallow we as a society are.

Instead of taking into account Rebecca’s incredible achievements, her gentle personality, and extensive charity work, (when of course we aren’t too busy staring at Amy’s boobs or Joey Essex’s hair), some simply dismiss her as ‘fat’, ‘ugly’, or worse. Is this REALLY how shallow we have become?

I noticed the Daily Mail (usual suspects) were running an article directly comparing the two women in the shower. Callously, they point out that Rebecca chooses to cover up in a black swimsuit whilst Amy chooses to ‘stand out’ in a cobalt blue bikini. They then suggest the 3 best cobalt blue bikinis in the shops right now. Subliminally, this suggests that we should want to look like Amy, but not look like Rebecca. That then reinforces our idea of ‘beauty’ and how we ‘should’ look. It’s irresponsible, vile, shallow and absolutely it is a harmful image to project to young women.

To make matters worse, Rebecca broke down this week, revealing crippling insecurities after years of bullying about the way she looks.

This sort of criticism, for me, is one of the most toxic. I’ve posted about comparison before, and how incredibly unhelpful and harmful it can be. Even I, as an adult, knowing what I know and having been through what I have been through, feel uncomfortable and a little inadequate looking at Amy frolicking in the jungle with not a hair out of place and a perfect smile gleaming from flawless skin; for most of us feel we can’t hope to look that good with a shedload of make-up on. It’s the same looking at any model – comparisons immediately are drawn, and I know I’m not the only one here. Clearly, living with Amy on a day to day basis is taking it’s toll on Rebecca’s already fragile self esteem, as it would with any woman.

It’s not an ‘Amy-bashing’ exercise. She’s worked hard at looking good, and has undeniably good genes. She too claims to have experienced bullying when she was younger; and sometimes this can drive you into modelling and onto a quest for perfection, as it has done with me. 

The saddest thing about this, for me, is that Rebecca, despite her incredible achievements, will probably never be satisifed with herself. Because for us to be accepted, and to conform, we have to look good. That’s really all that matters. The most popular people in that jungle are the prettiest. And unfortunately, I don’t see a U-turn in society any day soon.

I personally, am inspired by Rebecca, but not for the reasons that other people might be. I’m inspired by her because of her bravery – because I would not have been able to cope with my own demons in that situation. I also admire her because she has unflinchingly put her career before anything else; and achieved so much because of it. She’s also beautiful on the inside; and that is worth ten times more than an ugly personality, however you look on the outside.

Let me know your thoughts on this – I’m sure it’s a controversial one.