Spray can aimed in the wrong direction

Image by: Kia Kortelainen

Accusatory vandalism has no place in promoting body positivity.

Last week, a subway rider in Toronto pulled a dry-erase marker from her purse and added to what someone had already written across an ad for the Toronto Cosmetic Clinic — “you don’t need this.”  

Ads like this one reinforce the normalization of ridiculous beauty standards for women, but that doesn’t mean cosmetic surgery itself is the problem, or that vandalism is the answer. 

Condemning out-of-hand a service that offers cosmetic surgery mistakes the real reason that the subway rider felt the way she did about that ad. 

Damaging imagery concerning beauty abounds in our society. There’s no escaping it, and it leads to a myriad of problems. So, regardless of the ways that cosmetic surgery advertising might take advantage of harmful cultural norms, her action vilifies the wrong party. 

Objecting to cosmetic surgery clinics advertising their services doesn’t solve the societal stigma we’ve built up around body image, just like treating the symptoms of sickness doesn’t cure the sickness itself.  

In shaming the ad promoting cosmetic surgery, the spontaneous graffiti artist also shamed the hundreds of thousands of Canadian women who’ve received plastic surgery.

While the sentiment that all bodies are beautiful is admirable, she wrongfully exempts surgically altered bodies from the mix. 

Instead we can find a way to celebrate all bodies, no matter how they came into being. 

Any way you square it, vandalism is illegal, and not without good reason. 

We don’t have to resort to illicit activity to make women feel good about their bodies. Doing so casts a shadow of illegitimacy across an important message. 

— Journal Editorial Board



Activism, body image, Vandalism

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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