Friday, 23 April 2010

Corrected: Darren Caplan on Women's bodies

Darren Caplan pops up in this debate: "Politics: Women and body image"

According to Annie Loves he said: "“I accept that having projections of the ‘body beautiful’ everywhere doesn’t help in getting positive messages across. But we should be seeking to make stronger citizens, not doctor the environment in which they grow up.”

(The original incorrect version: According to Annie Loves he said: "All these pictures around us bombard us with the message that unless you’re young, white, thin and beautiful – in inverted commas – then you’re really not worth very much.” In fact this comment was made by Janice Williams, the director of Object. Darren has provided his full statement in the comments)


  1. Dear Blood and Property

    I would be grateful if you could correct the article above ('Darren Caplan on Women's bodies'), which is factually incorrect.

    The comment you have quoted is not from me but is from Janice Williams, the Director of Object. I am sure this is an innocent mistake on your part - please could you make this clear in your corrected version of the article.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I have pasted below my actual words, which were a requested response by to Nick Clegg's view that air-brushed adverts of the 'perfect body' should come with a health warning.

    Darren Caplan
    Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hackney North & Stoke Newington


    'Health warnings' on adverts

    I do not think politicians - Lib Dem or otherwise - should impose a duty on advertisers to say whether they have altered an image. There are many influences affecting teenagers growing up, quite apart from adverts on TV, in magazines or online. Parents and siblings, work colleagues, teachers, boyfriends and girlfriends, school, college or university mates (to name just a few) - all affect what and how we think of ourselves and others.

    To single out advertisers and political responsibility misses the point. It is up to each of us, as families, colleagues, friends and partners, to say to teenagers that who you are and what you do is not connected to your looks and your body, but is related to talent, ability, hard work and making the most of whatever luck comes your way. Furthermore, by shielding teenagers from the real world - where advertisers will always put a positive gloss on their clients' services and products, a gloss unachievable to the vast majority of people - simply makes it more difficult for them to deal with challenges and upsets later on in life.

    I accept that having projections of the 'body beautiful' everywhere doesn't help in getting positive messages across. But we should be seeking to make stronger citizens, not doctor the environment in which they grow up - you can't stem the ocean tides but you can make sure your boat is strong enough to withstand the inevitable buffetings which come along. The onus should be on personal responsibility not to be overly swayed by these images; and it is up to all of us to inculcate this, even if the beholder is at a relatively young age.

    Finally, we should remember that the UK has a robust and successful advertising sector which enables businesses and jobs to flourish. Mandating and enforcing 'health warnings' on their work is not only unnecessary and counterproductive to teenagers' development, but would also be bureaucratic and expensive to enforce at a time when we need to be making it easier for businesses to grow and create employment.


    Misrepresentation of women in the media

    Regarding alleged 'misrepresentation of women in the media', whilst I accept there has been an issue of some older female broadcasters being treated badly by mainstream news outlets, by and large I am optimistic about the progress of women in the media.

    Few would argue that there are now not more women working in TV, radio, print and online media outlets - and this is likely to continue in future, without the need for recourse to coercive, heavy-handed political intervention. As in any walk of life there are good and bad media performers, and good ones will succeed on the basis of meritocracy and not quotas - to do so otherwise simply patronises women.

    Women are increasingly represented in a variety of media roles and genres, from news to arts through to sports, drama, comedy and factual programming and much more. An independent media, free from political interference, is not only essential to women's continued success but is also to the vibrancy of a free, British society more generally.

  2. Hi Darren, thanks for that. I'm in the process of correcting it now. Hope you get a chance to comment on the other piece too.