Why Every Body Is Beach Beautiful

By Ben Venables Last edited 48 months ago
Why Every Body Is Beach Beautiful

Fearless comedian Juliette Burton. Photo: Ben Venables

'Are you beach body ready?' asked the controversial company Protein World on billboards all across London. Comedian Juliette Burton answered this question with a resounding 'yes' — but not due to any endorsement of the ads. For Burton, the question was redundant: every body is beach body ready.

Like thousands of others she called time on the now-banned advertising campaign, signing the petition for its removal on change.org.

She wasn't to know that an automated tweet would trigger a response from Protein World and their CEO Arjun Seth. A response of such majestic crassness it made Buzzfeed, Have I Got News For You and The Huffington Post.

According to the company and its CEO, Burton was passing her apparent 'insecurities' onto them. Seth then tweeted on the state of her mental health — a tweet concluding with a string of emojis. Anyone familiar with Burton's stand up comedy will find attempts to undermine her mental health particularly ironic — she is open, honest and campaigns precisely against such stigma.

Burton has since had to deal with tidal wave levels of trolling on social media. Yet, despite this bombardment she remains in good spirits talking to Londonist over a cuppa on the South Bank: "All this talk of beaches has made me want to lie on one with a cocktail," she says, while dunking her tea bag.

She's especially pleased to be talking about comedy again. Her documentary comedy show Look At Me arrives in Leicester Square Theatre next month. The premise of the show asks: "Is what we appear to be who we are?" Look At Me is about body image, body confidence and, as Burton puts it:  "No matter what we look like we all have a relationship with our own body and we all face that challenge."

It's rare for a comedy show to receive arts funding, but Burton successfully applied for funds in order for her to use prosthetics to change her appearance to that of, for example, a 90 year old lady, a man, or adopting the full-on Katie Price look. Her day in each 'new body' was then recorded. She also interviewed 40 people, from models at the start of their career to octagenarians. She also looked at how certain medical conditions affected the relationship with the body, talking to people with 'seen' conditions such as facial disfigurements to cancer sufferers where physical symptoms may be hidden from view.

"I asked every person 'What is beauty?' and the answers were really moving. Whenever I perform Look At Me, I'm still reminded of all the lessons I learned."

Though certain companies try to use it against her, Burton has never made any secret of her history of anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating, or that she was once sectioned.

She puts it simply: "The reason I'm open in shows and on mental health problems is because I don't want anyone to feel as alone as I used to."

Or to put it in a way lost on those that try to use this to disparage her she says: "Comedy is about revealing who I am and not pretending to be who I'm not. I don't think anyone should be ashamed of mental health problems. People can develop great strength."

Look At Me is on at Leicester Square Theatre on 17 & 18 June, 7pm. Tickets £10 (£8).  Juliette Burton also hosts a regular comedy club night Happy Hour, which is on the first Tuesday of each month at The Canvas, 42 Hanbury Street, E1. 7.30pm.

Last Updated 13 May 2015