Last year, I wrote an article for The Independent discussing why the plus-size community shouldn’t be let down by its own brands. My comments were a reaction to Evans’ ‘body positive’ clothing campaign #StyleHasNoSize. Disappointingly, Evans seemed to take a severely lacklustre approach to diversity and completely missed a golden opportunity to make a prominent and progressive move for plus-size women. Rather than fulfilling their ‘Style Has No Size’ statement and representing a wide range of bodies to suit their size 14-32 target audience, the models that Evans used very much fell instead into the ‘One Size Fits All’ category. All were of a similar height, size and body shape. This isn’t the only problem; the majority are white and of a ‘desirable’ age, which begged the question – where was the diversity?
Companies such as Victoria’s Secret have also come under-fire for only representing one body type whilst simultaneously claiming to be ‘body positive’ with their Love My Body campaign. It is important to represent all different kinds of women in mainstream media because that expands the beauty standard and doesn’t leave girls feeling alone and unworthy because they don’t look like Victoria’s Secret models.
Sadly, as the body positive community continues to grow, many people are jumping on the bopo bandwagon (yay Dove! yay Lane Bryant!) but some for the wrong reasons (boo Victoria’s Secret!) If companies are going to represent body positivity, then they need to be FULLY inclusive of all body types, sizes, backgrounds and lifestyles – not conform to the cookie cutter humanity that we’ve so far been subjected to in society for financial gain.
One such company that has been at the forefront of body positivity in the past few weeks are lingerie goddesses, Curvy Kate. Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’d have noticed a photograph of ‘Scantilly’-clad babes doing the rounds on social media. Curvy Kate launched their new lingerie line, Scantilly, and along with it, they launched a whole set of body positive fierceness into the stratosphere. As my girl Megan Crabbe (@bodyposipanda) who looks ever-glowing in the photographs, says on her blog, “each one of us have overcome something different, and learned to accept different parts of ourselves on our way to body positivity. And that’s something that looking at the image alone doesn’t necessarily show, but that deserves to be represented… Curvy Kate has created something wonderful. That being said, it’s important to talk about how the campaign could have been more inclusive, and think of the women who don’t see themselves represented.”
Curvy Kate have taken a giant leap forwards in terms of body image representation, as Megan notes, “[we’re] yet to see another campaign featuring a recovered anorexic, a transgender woman, a woman with alopecia, an amputee, and 2 plus size beauties together”, and that is what sets Scantilly’s campaign apart from other ‘body positive’ campaigns. For while their hearts might be in the right place, other brands are just not getting it – you can’t call yourself a body positive campaign or brand if your models are on the ‘right side’ of fat, or if the majority of them are white, or if the majority of them are able-bodied, or if the majority of them have plenty of existing representation in the fashion world and mainstream media.
More than this, the fact that this photoshoot shows these women from all walks of life absolutely SLAYING in their sassy and sexy lingerie will speak to women and girls across the globe. To the young girl who has alopecia, she now has representation of a woman who is an alopecia advocate; to the woman who suffers a disability, she now has mainstream representation of her sexuality; the young woman exploring her gender identity, can see a transgender woman breaking through body image ideals as the first transgender woman ever seen in a mainstream lingerie campaign. Although not everyone will see themselves represented in Curvy Kate’s campaign, they are still making inroads into body love for ALL bodies and this activism couldn’t be farther than Victoria’s Secret’s ‘body love’ campaign.
Here’s to Curvy Kate for showing up and actually making a stand for those marginalised by society. And here’s to the phenomenal, fabulous forces of nature who joined forces with them. But, more can still be done: so I challenge you, clothing and beauty brands alike, can you up your game and prove yourselves to be fully-inclusive, instead of partially-inclusive?