The Victoria’s Secret Angels are images of “perfection”. They are supermodels. Effectively they are super human because no ordinary woman has a body like that. That’s fine because they aren’t employed because of their ordinary looks or ordinary bodies, they’re employed specifically because of the extraordinary way they look.
Lane Bryant have recently launched an alternative campagin. The #ImNoAngel campaign focusses on how women who aren’t super human look in beautiful lingerie. Women in different shapes and sizes, all beautiful, but much more likely to represent the ordinary woman.
I have read a lot of arguments about this but one that resonates with me is whether the Lane Bryant advert could be considered as “Skinny Shaming”.
The ad campaign features only women who are significantly curvier than the average super model. By making an ad campaign focussing on how all women’s bodies are beautiful but missing out slimmer women, it is not representing all women. It only represents curvy girls, not slim or athletic girls, suggesting they are not beautiful.
I am very anti skinny-shaming. I am also very anti fat-shaming, but as a slim girl and having been heard and read some truly vile things about women my size I don’t believe that body shaming of any type is helpful. Accepting and loving curvy women for who they are is not done by making out slim women are stupid, vain, slutty, anorexic or unattractive (things I see quite often). Accepting and loving curvy women for who they are is done by accepting and loving all women for who they are.
At 5″7 (172 cm) and a UK size 6-8 (US 2-4) I am much more widely represented in media images than most, specifically because I am taller and more slim than most. I am not “average” shape and whilst I am certainly no supermodel, I am aware that my shape is what is more likely to be seen in ad campaigns, even if it’s women who are taller, slimmer and have significantly larger breasts. The fact Lane Bryant haven’t included a woman my shape is irrelevent. If I need to feel represented I can look at almost all other ad campaigns and see a woman of my body type.
Women bigger than a UK 10 don’t have that priviledge. And that is what it is, a priviledge. In the fashion industry, if you’re shaped like me you’re treated better. You’re not called “plus size” (anything over a 12, I mean honestly, how ridiculous) and you’re used in all campaigns not just the unusual ones.
Once women of all shapes and sizes are considered beautiful and advert friendly, then if one shape is missed out then perhaps this argument could hold water. Until then if an advert says all women are beautiful regardless of their shape and doesn’t include an image of a slim woman it does not count as skinny-shaming. It counts as representing the under respresented. Respecting the marginalised and bringing the more regularly shamed and insulted into the lime light and giving them the kind of attention and treatment they deserve and don’t often get.
I have a great deal of respect for Lane Bryant and honestly I believe it should become the norm. The fact this ad campaign is getting so much attention for being unusual is depressing. The women featured are beautiful. Some bigger, some smaller, but all beautiful and all representing the average woman far better than the incredible, stunning, leggy creations that strut down the Victoria’s Secret catwalk in angel wings.
You do not have to look like an Angel to be beautiful. I’m No Angel and, I assume, you’re no angel. But we are beautiful and we deserve to be represented in the media. Equally. I don’t deserve more representation because I’m tall and slim, but I don’t deserve less than someone who is short and curvy. What we should see is women who are healthy and beautiful representing us for who we all are. We come in all shapes and sizes and that’s wonderful. Without Lane Bryant taking the lead other companies won’t follow suit. So I tip my hat to them. I hope this starts a trend that proves diversity sells, women want to be represented for who they are, and that beauty is not limited to Angels.