Nivea’s ‘Dare to Dip’, or Why EVERYTHING has to be such a fucking big deal… 1


Nivea did this promotion for the beginning of summer called ‘Dare to Dip’ (I think in the US it’s being called ‘Dare To Bare’).  People could sign up and take a dip in a bigass pool in the middle of Covent Garden in London.  Well, I’ve never swam in the middle of a 17th century market – have you? – so I signed up.  But as the day got closer, I got more and more nervous.  See, I’m bigger, and was worried that I would be made fun of.  Sure, I’ve done art projects where I was wearing less than a bathing suit such as Spencer Tunick, but there you have numbers on your side – there are 500 naked people to every one random person who wanders into the photoshoot.  And even if someone in your group is gazing at you, they are naked as well, so the power structure is off.  So yes, when I saw that ginormous tank that I’d be swimming in, I was a bit scared.  But here’s the thing:

YOU CANNOT LIVE YOUR LIFE IN FEAR.

There may be someone of either gender looking at you and judging you – you cannot let that define your actions.
We live in a digital age, where your image may at any time be uploaded in an effort to shame you – you cannot let that define your actions.

I didn’t make it through a spine debilitating accident at 19, bipolar at 28, bipolar meds that destroyed by body, and a horrific pregnancy and birth recovery that means I’m still in pain 2 years later, to have my actions defined by anyone, or anything in this world.

 

Closeup of me.  Note, I am not model thin, or corporately beautiful.

Closeup of me. Note, I am not model thin, or corporately beautiful.

Me, about to jump.  Note the lack of ogling men, and the only 2 people holding up cameras are women.

Me, about to jump. Note the lack of ogling men, and the only 2 people holding up cameras are women.

So I did it, and it was fine.  The water was deliciously warm, and the ladies I swam with were very nice, as were the majority of the crowd.  Sure, there were a few jackasses jeering, but newsflash folks:  jackasses can be jackasses whether I am fully clothed or not.  Whatever mommy issues some mouth breather has, is their and their court-ordered therapist’s problem, not mine.  They would have those issues if I was in a parka and they were naked.  I, all 275 lbs of me, wanted to do something, and did it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few points for those who are unaware:

Signups were for everyone in the UK over the age of 18, regardless of gender.  My husband was invited to do it as well, but as he was holding our child, somewhat logistically difficult.  The T&Cs also clearly stated what the area and pool would look like, it’s not as though we were ambushed when we rocked up.

You had to sign a consent form stating that you understood this would be filmed.  It’s not as if the cameras just showed up out of nowhere.

In my group of 4, there were about 30 years between the youngest and oldest, and about 160 lbs between the lightest and heaviest.  Not exactly cookie cutter body types.

Our faces weren’t ‘covered up’.  FFS, people make it out like we had on string bikinis and hijabs.  The top of the tank had a white foam barrier for ye olde health and safety (God forbid someone over jump and hit edge of pool).  Besides which, we had goggles so we could swim down and wave.

When we finished, each of us had our picture taken, and each of us in turn were asked if we would like it uploaded to Nivea’s facebook  straight away, or have it privately emailed to us.  As I was holding my squirmy 2 year old, I told them to email me when they got a chance.

 

“But!”, I hear you starting in, “surely Nivea could have made things less awkward!”  Okay, let’s take those suggestions one at a time:

Someone suggested building a lower level pool.  If you think an above ground pool costs more than digging into the damn ground, in the middle of London, on a 300 year old trading site, for a marketing gig that will be gone by next week, by all means, continue to think that. (We won’t even get into the discussion of space concerning foot traffic, or logistics of viewership with a lower pool floor).  You could also suggest having it at a city pool or the Serpentine, in which case I would be forced to explain how mass marketing works (hint:  you want the most amount of traffic, not people who would have to pay to get into the marketing area, like the Serpentine swimming area).

If you would like to remove the health and safety foam at the top of the tank, I assume you’d welcome liability for any accidents that may occur.  Hope you have deep pockets.

If you had read the clearly written T&Cs on the site, or talked to anyone, you’d know that it was open to all genders.  Even my husband was asked if he wanted a go.

But here’s the biggest one:

 

Nivea didn’t make me feel awkward.  A random teenage boy didn’t make me feel awkward.  You did.

 

You see, random twitterers and outraged bloggers, a few yobs judging my body is nothing.  Nothing.  I was a 36C by the time I was 11, and I’m 275 lbs now, if you think I’m not aware that the world has always judged me by varying degrees of lust and loathing, you are out of your damn mind.  It was you, the ‘enlightened’, the ones so outraged you didn’t bother to do any investigation before taking to your keyboards to show the world just how angry you are, you are the ones who made me feel ashamed.

Poor stupid women, we chose to objectify ourselves because we didn't know any better!

Poor stupid women, we chose to objectify ourselves because we didn’t know any better!

At some point, you decided to be enraged for me, as apparently in my 37 years of life on this Earth, I hadn’t yet been blessed with your amazing knowledge of all things feminist.  Thank goodness you would serve as moral arbitrators for me, and the other stupid women who didn’t know any better!  It’s not as though we have any sense of understanding of the world around us, we’re just ignorant overgrown girls who need to be protected from the big bad world by the much smarter women who truly understand!  Whatever would we do without you to tell us when we should be outraged?

Actually going on twitter and asking to chat with any of the women who participated was apparently too much effort, and there’s nothing so satisfying as getting mad without even asking how I, or any other participant, felt.  Because we don’t matter in this equation, not really.  Our voices don’t need to be heard to gear up your indignation machine.  We are apparently just there for ‘slathering Greek tourists‘ (super bonus for the misuse of ‘slathering’.  Perhaps you meant ‘salivating’, or ‘leering’ some other word to denigrate all Greek tourists in one throwaway line?).  We apparently don’t have our own minds, our own reasons for doing it. Nivea, by the way, interviewed me, and I told them the same thing I will tell you:

I am finally healed from my horrific pregnancy and birth, and want to reclaim my body from medicine.  I am making a stand to get healthy so that I can keep up with my amazing 2 year old, and wanted this to be a very literal splash into my project.  I don’t care about corporate definitions of beauty, but I want to keep my fabulous spirit for the next 40+ years, and I cannot do that in this body.  So, I need to make a healthy change, and that begins today.

 

The lady with me who had 15 years on me?  She did it because she was inspired by Gok Won’s ‘look good naked’ programs.  Every woman had a story, and the Nivea staff were interested in all of them, not just the ‘pretty’ girl’s ones.  Too bad our ‘sisters’ on twitter and the blogopshere weren’t.

But to be fair, if anyone of them had asked me, or any other attendant, then the rage may have dissipated, and where oh where would be the fun in that?

 

Edit:  Read this last night concerning the Oxford jelly wrestling, sounds familiar…”feminism still feels like someone rescuing me from the patriarchy so that I may be told what to do by ‘sisters’ who need to get their opinions out of my knickers.”  I *do* so love when women tell me what’s best for me, in the spirit of feminism. Nice change from when men tell me in spirit of misogyny.


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