You may have heard about the backlash against Lane Bryant’s new #PlusIsEqual campaign because of its lack of size diversity (again!).
You may have also heard about the backlash against the backlash. Madeline Jones, editor of Plus Model Magazine, posted a video where she posed a question: If we’re so angered by LB, why is their campaign going viral? If we want to see bigger women in ads then why was there little excitement over plus size retailers like Eloquii using models in their look book who are visibly larger than any of LB’s models?
She has a point. I’ve also noticed on social media that the photos with hourglass shaped or conventionally attractive models get the most “likes” and responses while photos with women sporting bellies, rolls and cellulite get little or, worse, negative attention.
I have a theory about this and it will probably be unpopular but, hey, it’s my theory. If you have a different idea, let’s discuss it respectfully. Here it goes…..
I believe that a lot of women don’t respond well to bigger models because they’re not as body positive as they profess to be. They don’t like what they see in the mirror so why expect them to get excited over someone who looks like them? I see evidence of that in comments about wanting to lose weight… for their health, of course. However, instead of bragging about improved blood pressure or glucose numbers, they post “before/after” photos or pose while holding up pants that have become too large. I see it in the criticism toward other fat women whether it’s “concern” about our health or advising on what we should wear or eat/not eat.
Lane Bryant’s previous campaign, #ImNoAngel promoted the conventionally attractive plus size women with the hour glass figures that were as much a fantasy as the Victoria Secrets models. It’s the reflection that a lot of fat women want to see because society may be more accepting of fat people but only if you’re not too fat. Lane Bryant understands that and exploits the insecurities of women who get their 15 minutes of validation using the My Billboard app as a way to be inclusive. If you take a look at the photos, the majority of them are not full body shots. Despite “adding their voices to the movement for body equality” the participants are happy to show their faces but not their bulges, rolls, stretch marks, cellulite, jiggle, etc.
Instead of asking how we can get Lane Bryant to include bigger women in their campaigns, perhaps the conversation should center around how can we help more women become excited to see bigger bodies. How do we get them to truly see the beauty in their own bodies and not just pay lip service to body positivity? Because until that happens it will be a very long time before major plus size retailers, like Lane Bryant, include models that truly represent the sizes they sell.