Endangered Species: Challenging Body Beautiful Culture

The winning entry from Manchester’s RED C Agency
The winning entry from Manchester’s RED C Agency

By Sharon Haywood, Co-Editor

If you happen to be in London over the next month, expect to see this gorgeous baby girl smiling out at you from various billboards, coupled with the question:

“Is this the happiest she’ll ever be about her appearance?”

This sober inquiry officially launches Endangered Species in the UK – one of five international summits designed to celebrate body diversity and challenge the culture that teaches girls and women to hate their own bodies. A truly global summit, events will take place in London, New York, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, and Sao Paulo this coming March, the same month as the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. The billboard campaign was born out of collaboration with Endangered Species, led by the internationally respected psychotherapist, author, and activist Susie Orbach, and DIVA, the largest-selling magazine for lesbian and bi-sexual women in the UK. They invited advertising and creative agencies from around the UK to create a billboard campaign that reflected the urgent message of Endangered Species: Save future generations of women and girls from hating their own bodies.

The winning entry, chosen from over 100 submissions, is courtesy of Manchester’s RED C Agency and is officially unveiled today, February 7th. It will be displayed at 11 different locations throughout the country’s capital running up to the summit at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank on March 4th. The global advertising company, Clear Channel International (CCI), which works with advertisers to create inspiring out-of-home campaigns across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, generously donated the 11 billboard sites.

The "Feel Good in Your Skin" issue of DIVA magazine
The “Feel Good in Your Skin” issue of DIVA magazine

This powerful ad campaign is also featured in the March issue of DIVA magazine, coined the “Feel Good in Your Skin” edition, which has been guest-edited by Susie Orbach. Jane Czyzselska, editor of DIVA magazine, says:

“When Susie told us about Endangered Species, her upcoming event aimed at correcting the warped view we have of ourselves, which is created and supported by our personal histories and the powerful visual media, we decided to join forces and asked Susie to guest-edit a special issue of DIVA. We’re excited about the impact our efforts could have in changing the cultural discourse about our bodies and in turn helping women to feel truly at home in their skin.”

Additional support for Endangered Species in the UK comes from Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, fashion specialist Caryn Franklin, and actor and writer Emma Thompson, as well as a variety of organizations and activists from the UK, Ireland, and abroad. The revolutionary summit aims to engage key players from the realms of politics, corporate life, fashion, and media and ask them how they can best contribute to changing those aspects of the commercialization of beauty, which currently cause harm to girls and women worldwide. Susie Orbach explains:

“Over the past 30 years the workings of the diet, pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic surgery and style industries have made us view the body we live in as a body which must be perfect. The goal of perfectibility has turned generations of women against their own bodies. The young woman who can feel free to explore her interests without being preoccupied by how her body appears or focus on what procedure she should have in the future to change it is becoming an ‘Endangered Species’.”

Spread the word and pick up a copy of DIVA’s special issue on sale today. Together, we can preserve the female body.

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Related content:

Sharon Haywood on the Body Wars of Argentina (Includes a video of Sharon Haywood’s presentation at the London summit, March 4, 2011)

Battling the Beauty Myth in Argentina

This March: The Body Image Activist Movement Leaps Forward Across the Globe

A Second Round of Applause for the Book “Bodies”


9 thoughts on “Endangered Species: Challenging Body Beautiful Culture

  1. Sharon,

    Great job on your Endangered Species seminar. I watched a part of it on USTREAM.

    If you have any follow-up notices, post-summit reports, or any such thing, send them to me me and I will post them on the websites.

    You are probably exhausted and will take a few days to absorb the experience, but I am sure you do and will feel extremely proud of your accomplishment. I admire your convictions and that you do something with them.


    Stephen Page

  2. I think this is a superb ad campaign using a simple but hugely engaging message to take this issue seriously. Misleading or dangerous photos, adverts and virals surround us with damaging messages. I discovered this viral (aimed at young women) the other day and was not only outraged by the outright misogynism but by the message that women are willing to humilaite and devalue themselves for fashion…


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