Can we call a timeout? Is there a pink flag we can wave to say, “enough already”? I am becoming so over body image campaigns.
2014 was filled with companies, people, and campaigns receiving a lot of flack for not getting the body image message just right. From Calvin Klein using a “plus-sized” model that was a size 10, Kim Kardashian baring it all in attempt to “break the Internet,” and the Victoria’s Secret “Perfect Body” campaign.
It’s painfully obvious that Lane Bryant did not learn a thing from the Victoria’s Secret “Perfect Body” controversy. Last year, Victoria’s Secret debuted their new Body by Victoria’s Secret bra with an ad that played on the phrase, “Perfect Body.” This Body bra is supposed to be perfect. But they had 10 of their skinny models lined up behind the phrase insinuating that the perfect body would be that of one of their “Angels.”
It was no surprise that a storm started on social media and there was even a petition started to get the ad changed. And it worked. The ad was changed to, “A Body for Every Body.”
Not only did Lane Bryant make the same mistake with their campaign that premiered April 6, but they also managed to make it worse. Essentially, the company featured five plus-sized models as a way to advertise their new line, Cacique, in hopes to “redefine sexy.”
In the video clip, one model asks, “How boring would it be if we were all the same?” A Bustle article written by Jodie Layne, points out that the five women, although ethnically diverse, actually all have the same body type, proportion and height wise. Strike.
Lane Bryant CEO, Linda Heasley, has been quoted saying, “Our ‘#ImNoAngel’ campaign is designed to empower ALL women to love every part of herself.” She says all, yet the whole campaign is based off women that are not Victoria’s Secret Angels. They are purposely excluding the group of women that are typically known to be tall and skinny. Strike two.
While fat-shaming typically gets a lot of the attention, there really is such a thing as skinny-shaming. There are skinny people that get bullied for their size and can get pressured into eating. “You need to eat a cheeseburger” becomes an insult.
A Washington Post article, “How Lane Bryant might be ‘bullying’ skinny women,” is worried that Lane Bryant took the wrong angle. They included a quote from writer, Sarah Wasilak that mentioned, “Yes, the VS Angels are slender, but each of them boasts her own unique body type, as do the gorgeous women in Lane Bryant’s ad.” The specific jab at Victoria’s Secret took it too far. Strike three.
These campaigns are prime examples of the deep enjoyment that our society has by pitting women against each other. These marketing tactics to empower women actually keep dividing women into skinny and plus-sized categories. When will we be done competing?
Lately, I have been taking the advice Sophia Bush wrote in the foreword of the book; I AM THAT GIRL by Alexis Jones. She says, “Ladies, we need to collaborate, not compete. We need to champion each other, send out high-fives across the World Wide Web, and give high-fives in person.” Lane Bryant isn’t doing that.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been a growing spectacle, especially on social media. I found myself last December watching it and instead of taking to Twitter to mention how I was watching while stuffing my face with pizza like thousands of other girls like to joke about, I was actually enchanted. Instead of bashing the girls walking down the runway, I was consumed by their confidence. It was one of the first times I thought, wow, they are killing it.
Since reading I AM THAT GIRL and being taught by examples of women cheering on other women from the likes of Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss, I am sold. I am tired of the bashing and the competition.
To companies making future body image campaigns: avoid using words such as all and everybody, unless you are going to try to have a good representation that isn’t just plus-sized and skinny. Don’t bring down others in an attempt to empower. #ImNotBuyingIt