Recently, plus-sized clothing company Lane Bryant came under fire in response to their recent #ImNoAngel marketing dig at Victoria's Secret. What they assumed would be a "body positive" ad campaign, featuring plus-sized models celebrating what makes them feel sexy, turned into a hot Twitter mess, as bitter women from all over unleashed a barrage of criticism in 140 characters or less.
Come on Lane Bryant, most companies know better than to open the Q & A on Twitter. It never goes well.
At first, there were complaints that the clothing is cheaply made, unstylish, and too expensive. Okay, That's fair. (I think, I've never shopped there on account of being more of a dwarf than an Amazon.)
...And then the body image complaints rolled in: You don't hire fat people in your stores, your mannequins are too small, the plus-sized models you hired are not fat enough, you hired Wendy Williams and she said to stop using food to feel good.... On and on. One woman even tweeted When are you going to humanize fat people? ... Wait, what?
But it didn't stop there. The skinny girls took their turn to beat on Lane Bryant with their skinny sticks. You are criticizing skinny girls for their body shape, skinny girls are sexy, too, all bodies should be celebrated... etc.
Sorry, Layne Bryant, but you just can't win because, apparently, all women - big and small - are fundamentally fucked up about their body image. And they blame you for not making them feel good.
And all the while, these poor models are being raked over the coals for being both too fat and too skinny by a demented society that promotes looks over performance to define self-esteem.
So, you expect to be celebrated but the plus-sized models in this campaign are too skinny to be considered "real"?
Ladies, gather 'round and take a knee. It is not the job of Lane Bryant or Victoria's Secret to make you feel good about yourself. The gig is up. Marketing serves two purposes: one, to make you feel just inadequate enough to create a need, and, two, to make you feel just hopeful enough their product can fill this need and make you whole an happy. The goal is to make yourself whole and happy so that your self-esteem doesn't hinge upon seeing someone who looks exactly like you in a magazine or on a billboard. Let's get real. Many women - not just the fat ones - are left out of standard sizes and ad campaigns.
Muscled women are only glorified in small circles on Instagram. Otherwise it's, you don't want to get too bulky! Or, yuck! That's mannish! Most fitness ads feature women with twig arms curling 5 pound dumbbells. In the movies, you see girls built like Angelina Jolie knocking grown men out and being tough as hell, when they could have used women that at least look like they could go a few rounds without snapping in half. Am I complaining? (Well, I have been known to roll my eyes a bit, but...) No. I am awesome because I lift heavy stuff and grapple dudes every day. My self-worth is in what I do with my body, not what Hollywood or the fitness industry says it should look like.
And guess what? This petite bitch can't fit into "regular" clothes, either. My shoulders and back are too big, my waist is too thick, my thighs are too small, and I am clearly too short to be considered an actual adult. I cannot wear anything off the rack that doesn't contain at least 30% lycra. Am I complaining? (Well, sometimes I get upset that I don't fit right in anything except gym attire, but...) No. I am awesome because I am a good friend and I encourage people to be the best versions of themselves they can. My self-worth is in who I am as a person, not the all-too generalized sizing of a lingerie set.
But the crux of the biscuit isn't simply the ad campaign. It's about celebrating (as one Twitter user put it) size 22 and up as being sexy and beautiful. Apparently sizes 14-20 aren't big enough to count. Anyone who reads me regularly knows I will never fat shame here and I believe your size does not define your self-worth. However, I won't pretend that obesity isn't an epidemic which causes a staggering amount of chronic disease and disability in this country.
And I think that is why the Lane Bryant backlash upsets me. The internet is full of people sitting on their asses and demanding satisfaction. Get the f*ck up and get it yourself. If you want to feel beautiful, BE BEAUTIFUL. No marketing team on this earth can do that for you.
If you want to be "body positive," don't lie around waiting for someone to pay you compliments - TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY.
Move your body, don't doom it to stagnation. Feed your body foods that nourish it, not foods that destroy it. Chasing goals and smashing PRs will do more for you than a pair of jeans or an advertisement ever will. You can't buy beauty. You can't demand someone give you self-esteem. Go climb a mountain, run a race, test your mettle. Don't destroy your body, normalize it, and call that "positive." If you want to feel positive about your body, getting fit is the absolute best way to do it. Fit isn't a size, it's not a weight - it's ability, strength, and endurance. You can't get more "body positive" than making your body healthy, pushing it to achieve, and being the best you can be.
For a REAL body-positive campaign, check out: