Jack Guy and Sana Noor Haq, CNN
The Spanish government has launched a summer campaign encouraging women of all shapes and sizes to go to the beach.
“Summer is for us too. Enjoy it however, wherever and with whoever you want,” the Ministry of Equality tweeted Wednesday. “Today we raise a toast to a summer for every woman, without stereotypes and without aesthetic violence against our bodies.”
The poster features five women on a sandy beach by the sea. Beachgoers of varying ages and ethnicities are featured in the campaign. The image includes a topless woman who has had a mastectomy, a Black woman wearing a yellow bikini sitting on the sand and a fuller-figured White woman with a large tattoo on her arm.
“The @Women’sInstitute launches #SummerIsOurs. Diverse bodies, free from gender stereotypes, in all kinds of spaces. Summer also belongs to us. Free, equal and diverse,” the director of the Women’s Institute in Spain, Antonia Morillas, tweeted Wednesday.
“Every body is a beach body,” Ione Belarra, minister for social rights, said. “Our bodies are to be cared for, respected and enjoyed.”
The campaign sparked mixed reaction, with left-wing politician Cayo Lara calling it “the peak of absurdity.” Lara said in a tweet that the poster was “trying to create an issue where one doesn’t exist.”
However, politician Ángela Rodríguez Pam said that men who believe women don’t need the ministry’s approval to go to the beach have missed the point of the campaign.
“Men saying that fat women could already go to the beach without permission from the ministry of equality,” the junior minister for equality tweeted. “Of course we go but dealing with hate for showing off a body that doesn’t fit the norm. What we are reclaiming is that all kinds of bodies are fine.”
A new era?
Brands have previously faced criticism for touting beauty ideals that suggest women should aspire to be “beach body ready” by the summer.
In 2015, Protein World rolled out billboards in New York City advertising a diet supplement, with a photo of a slim woman in a bikini accompanied by the slogan: “Are you beach body ready?”
The campaign by the fitness nutrition company had previously sparked controversy in Britain. At the time, more than 71,000 people signed a petition to remove it. The country’s Advertising Standards Authority eventually banned the advert, citing “concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims.”
These days, companies are striving to be more inclusive with their swimwear designs.
New York-based brand Chromat has led the way with experimental designs and campaigns featuring diverse models, while also offering vibrant collections with trans women and non-binary people in mind. Similarly, Victory Adaptive is a US-based brand that creates swimwear for children with disabilities, producing styles with velcro side closures and openings for feeding tubes.
Chromat founder Becca McCharen-Tran said that the emergence of inclusive brands signals a “bigger change” across the industry.
“We’re not ashamed of it anymore, and we don’t have to hide it,” she told CNN earlier this month. “We’re getting to the place of covering up completely if that’s what you want, or being in a thong if that’s what you want, and everything in between. It’s just different options for everyone to show up to the party.”
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CNN’s Jacqui Palumbo contributed reporting to this story.