Dear millennials, you’re wrong for hating on Bluebella’s Strong is Beautiful campaign featuring Team GB rugby stars

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Jul 4, 2024 at 01:29 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

59446

It’s been just over 24 hours since the British lingerie company Bluebella decided to launch its ‘Strong Is Beautiful’ campaign aimed at celebrating women with trained, muscular bodies. However, the campaign, which features three female British Olympic rugby players, seems to have gone viral for all the wrong reasons, sparking the all-so-familiar debate about sexualisation versus strength and sexual agency.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Bluebella Lingerie (@bluebella)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Bluebella Lingerie (@bluebella)

The idea behind Bluebella’s recent campaign is quite clear: lingerie companies usually spotlight small, delicate, and curvaceous female bodies because muscle, tone, and a smaller chest are more strongly associated with masculinity.

Thus, the #StrongIsBeautiful campaign aims to shatter these gendered beliefs about femininity and beauty by celebrating bodies that would be deemed ‘unattractive’ under these binary standards. And to drive the point home, the company hired acclaimed international rugby players Celia Quansah, Ellie Boatman and Jasmin Joyce to show off their trained physique in its newest sets.

“We want to celebrate and normalise the beauty of strong and powerful female bodies, bodies that have historically been ignored by the fashion industry and stigmatised by society,” Bluebella explained in its campaign statement.

It continued: “Our #StrongIsBeautiful campaign was born out of the fact that girls give up sports more readily than boys, partly because society does not equate the look of a strong female body with being beautiful or feminine. If young women do not equate strength with feminine beauty, it is a problem far beyond sport.”

Nevertheless, The Independent and The Telegraph did not seem to agree with this campaign’s approach, calling it “degrading” and “ridiculous.”

“Faced with a stiff training session ahead of the impending Olympic Games, the last thing sports aficionados would expect to encounter is these accomplished athletes practising their moves in a series of racy lace bras, knickers, teddies and suspenders. Where were their sports bras? In fact, where were their clothes?” The Telegraph’s Laura Craik questioned when confronted with this display of female sexuality.

The Independent, on the other hand, seemed more concerned by how images like these might impact young girls: “Somewhere along the way, the “confidence” message has become hopelessly confused with the “looking sexy” message. (…) Yes, it should be entirely acceptable for young women to have muscles and enjoy chasing a muddy ball and still feel attractive. But there’s no equivalent ad campaign for men, permitting rugby internationals to indulge their whim for sexy underwear so ladies will still like them.”

Some agreed with the publications that the campaign was sexist, tasteless, and undermined the accomplishments of these young women. Specific commentators even went as far as to say that campaigns like these would make sports seem less appealing to young women, creating another space where they would be unnecessarily sexualised.

Others saw a display of multifaceted female identities in the ad and praised it for being innovative and progressive. They emphasised that sexiness shouldn’t be divorced from strength, power, and agency and also highlighted that this isn’t the first time Bluebella has tapped into female athletes. Apparently, the brand has photographed female athletes in lingerie for multiple years now to highlight fitness and make a statement about women being strong and beautiful.

As the internet continues to remain torn and divided over a debate that is as old as time, it is worth noting that male athletes have indeed posed in their underwire for multiple brands such as Calvin Klein, I-D, and GQ, without backlash like this.

This criticism is almost exclusively limited to women because society views and consumes their bodies in a different way. On one hand, it sensitises and alerts people to the real and persistent issues of exploitation and subjugation. On the other hand, it turns their bodies into cultural battlegrounds and makes the frame through which they can way them incredibly limited and confusing. Yes, in our society women are vulnerable but they’re also strong and kick ass, which is, in fact, super sexy.

Keep On Reading

By Abby Amoakuh

Sasha Pieterse of Pretty Little Liars discusses being sexualised in the role at age 12

By Francesca Johnson

Fame is a trauma: Cole Sprouse reveals his female Disney co-stars were heavily sexualised

By Charlie Sawyer

Introducing the Women’s Sports Network, the first-ever channel to focus solely on female athletes

By Abby Amoakuh

Megan Fox wins not one but two embarrassing awards at Razzies 2024

By Charlie Sawyer

What’s in the 2024 Oscars gift bag that’s worth more than most people’s annual salary?

By Abby Amoakuh

German woman receives harsher sentence than convicted rapist for calling him a pig over WhatsApp

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Why was Melania Trump not at the Manhattan courthouse with her husband?

By Abby Amoakuh

Netizens expose Glen Powell’s viral story about a cannibal encounter as fake

By Charlie Sawyer

Are UK-based citizens actually going to be forced into mandatory conscription?

By Charlie Sawyer

TikToker Leo Skepi faces backlash for fatphobic comments in now-deleted video

By Abby Amoakuh

Three young girls in Sierra Leone have died after female genital mutilation rituals despite calls for ban

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Inside Johnny Depp’s bizarre new bromance with Saudi Crown Prince MBS

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Student calls for stricter voyeurism punishment after discovering stepfather hid camera among teddies

By Abby Amoakuh

RuPaul’s new online bookstore Allstore removes anti-trans and far-right books following controversy

By Abby Amoakuh

Everything we know so far about The Summer I Turned Pretty season 3

By Abby Amoakuh

Is football apolitical? Here is how FIFA and the UEFA are used to further political agendas

By Abby Amoakuh

New Alabama bill to add rape exception to abortion ban and punish rapists with castration

By Alma Fabiani

Watch terrifying moment waterslide explodes into huge fireball at theme park

By Abby Amoakuh

Bar announces Heterosexual Awareness Month where straight men drink for free on Mondays

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Fans left angered over 50 Cent’s reaction to Power actor Michael Rainey Jr. being groped on a livestream