You know what’ll be an awesome way for Kate Langbroek and Dave Hughes to celebrate Hughesy and Kate’s 10th anniversary on breakfast radio? For Hughes to see a personal trainer to lose that embarrassing eight kilograms, then get waxed and spray-tanned, and then leap from a giant cake wearing a bikini!

Despite professing himself “terrified” to perform the stunt, Hughes will do this because it’s important to encourage other men to be body-confident. “It’s never going to be perfect but it’s mine, it’s beautiful and it does a really good job,” he will tell the Herald Sun.

One woman who can’t wait to see Hughes in all his glory is his breakfast “wife”, Kate.

But as you may realise, it was really Langbroek who leapt from the cake in a bikini on Friday morning, and her “breakfast husband” who was set to admire her “glory”.

By reversing the genders of the two radio hosts in the Herald Sun’s account of the stunt, I want to argue how ridiculous it is that anyone — male or female — should submit their near-naked body to public display, prefaced by an extensive grooming and reshaping of that body according to prevailing standards of beauty, and would honestly believe this encourages others to be “confident”.

All it does is reinforces the cultural norm that female broadcasters, comedians and commentators — and women in general — are best judged on how they look, not what they do or write.

Similarly, we should all be ashamed of ourselves to interpret as “proud” and “confident” Celebrity Apprentice winner Julia Morris’s decision to pose on the cover of Woman’s Day in “my first bikini at age 43”.

“Julia Morris couldn’t give two hoots she is not the mirror image of stick thin celebs,” the accompanying interview gushed, while Morris laughed as she told the magazine: “I think it’s because I have really bad reverse dysmorphia — it doesn’t matter what size I am, I look in the mirror and see someone incredibly hot. It’s outrageous.”

Though Morris is to be applauded for donating the bikini shoot fee to charity, her body pride talk would be far more plausible if she had not made such a public spectacle of her weight loss in the late 1990s, in which the plump brunette from Full Frontal became much thinner, but also terrifyingly blonde and tanned.

In a recent interview with Parenting Australia, Morris revealed how her Los Angeles acting coach asked her to consider either losing weight or putting more on. “She was saying all of this because in LA you’re either really fat or skinny and I was stuck in the middle. She said I didn’t need to lose too much weight, just a little bit otherwise I would have been ‘invisible’ in LA terms.”

Hardly the talk of someone who doesn’t care how others perceive her body.

Catherine Deveny also joined the bathing beauty parade when she spoke to noted ‘body image’ champion Mia Freedman at her site Mamamia under the headline: “I’m 80kg, size 16 and I love my body: Deveny”. Deveny supplied a pin-up style photo of herself posing in a retro bathing suit.

Unfortunately, she then fell into what we might call the “real woman” trap, which attempts to console women who feel fat by arguing that skinny women are dupes of the beauty industries, that “real women” come in “all shapes and sizes” (except “skinny”), and that men prefer “curves” anyway.

The most valuable part of the interview is Deveny’s advice for women to “own” their bodies: “I don’t want women to feel like they are trapped in a body they don’t want … If you are not happy, change. And don’t blame anyone else for it. Own your body.”

To this I’d add that you should also own the display rights to your body. Treat it as the home of your mind and your joie de vivre, not a public advertisement to others that you are happy and accomplished. To show that you’re really proud of your body, make it do stuff. Keep it healthy so it sustains the pursuits you love.

I don’t want to come over all pearl-clutchy on this, but it seems embarrassingly obvious to point out that women are encouraged, from a very young age, to derive their sense of self-worth solely from other people’s appreciation of their bodies. Little girls are praised for being pretty and docile rather than for being smart, funny, curious or resourceful. As they grow up, they learn from culture — and from peers who’ve also absorbed that culture — that people like girls more if they care for their bodies in certain ways.

The irony of the “feminist bikini shoot” is that feminists have used their bodies as billboards for political activism in the past because that’s pretty much all women had to work with. To make a really crude comparison, this is also why prisoners hunger-strike and asylum seekers self-harm — they’ve been stripped of control in every arena but their own bodies.

One of the victories of feminism is that it has given women more tools. Australian women have excellent access to education, and can build rich lives on their intelligence and ideas, or the physical capabilities of their bodies, not just on looks, s-x and child-bearing. Women are active in the public sphere, where they can communicate their opinions and influence other Australians.

As the recent #mencallmethings Twitter campaign has revealed, female writers and commentators still struggle against detractors who like to reduce them to their s-xual value — or perceived lack thereof. But there is no excuse for women reducing themselves to objects, especially in the mistaken belief that this demonstrates women shouldn’t be reduced to objects.

We don’t make men believe that “strength”, “pride”, “empowerment” and “inspiration” require them to strip  in public, so why do women continue to believe it of themselves? We might laugh at the absurdity of men being placed in these public situations — like the illustrations exploring how silly male superheroes look in the same costumes and poses that female superheroes routinely wear. But it is appalling and deplorable that we present the public consumption of women’s bodies as something for women to celebrate.