Lane Bryant, a plus sized clothing retail chain, released their big new lingerie campaign “#ImNoAngel” in early April of this year. In an interview with Huffington Post, Lane Bryant CEO, Linda Heasley, describes the campaign as challenging the notion that anyone needs to be perfect or angelic to be sexy. The company’s Tumblr account features a photoset from the ad captioned, “The women that wear cacique know that sexy comes in many shapes and sizes. They’re no angels – and they own it.”
The ad’s tag line is a direct jab at Victoria’s Secret and their models, who are dubbed “angels” and even have a fashion show every year in which they don wings. Although associating angel like-ness with being sexy is problematic, the real issue here is the type of models Victoria’s Secret use. In the 90s, Victoria’s Secret was a lot more curves-friendly, like with Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks, but in the past few years they’ve started using more and more “straight sized” models. To be a “straight sized” model, you have to be 5’9.5-5’11, 34 inch hips, 23-24 inch waist, and 31-34 inch bust. To put it in perspective, I use to model, and I only achieved this size at the peak of my eating disorder, when I was 20 pounds underweight and had started having health problems. By using such a narrow and extreme definition of beauty, Victoria’s Secret and companies like it are promoting starvation.
The #ImNoAngel campaign comes at a time when the fat acceptance movement is gaining momentum. Whether you want to call ‘em “plus sized,” “fat babe,” “alternatively sized,” “curvy,” or (my personal favorite) “hottie with a body,” they’re here to stay. Candice Huffine, featured in the campaign, has been making waves for years. She has appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia, and this year as the first model of her size in the super exclusive Pirelli Calendar. Next to her in the Lane Bryant ad is Ashley Graham. Graham has appeared in everything from Levi’s campaigns to the cover of Elle Quebec, and she is now the first model of her size to appear in the Sports Illustrated 2015 Swimsuit Edition. While these pioneering superstars make headlines, the good fight is also being fought on social media. Hashtags like effyourbeautystandards are everywhere, and there are more and more diverse fashion bloggers of every size, shape, and color everyday.
Like one of the models says in the #imnoangel video, “How boring would it be if we were all the same?” So here’s to ending the starvation imagery and overall lack of diversity in fashion and advertising. Keep on challenging problematic definitions of beauty by unapologetically being yourself and sharing it with the world.