Plus-sized clothing retailer Lane Bryant recently began an advertising campaign to combat negative body image. The campaign is inspirational and brings up the issue of body shaming that is imperative for people to discuss. That said, the beauty of the campaign is almost overshadowed by Lane Bryant’s unnecessary dig at fellow lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret by the use of the hashtag #ImNoAngel.
The campaign that Lane Bryant focuses on, called #ImNoAngel, has received an immense amount of positive feedback and support on social media sites. It makes sense. The company’s advertisements are inviting and often humorous. In one YouTube advertisement, a model even says, “I mean, honey, have you seen all of this?”
However, the campaign is not just about making people laugh. Rather, Lane Bryant’s advertisements are designed to make average and plus-sized women, two categories that often overlap, feel more comfortable with who they are and what they look like.
Lane Bryant with its #ImNoAngel campaign and other companies like Dove and its #ChooseBeautiful campaign are aiming to fix the distorted self-image many women have of their bodies. Lane Bryant wants women to recognize that no one body type is necessarily the right body type.
It is incredibly important that women, both young and old, learn that their body type is no better or worse just because it is larger or smaller. It should be about how a woman feels. If a woman is happy with her body then size should not be an issue, but society often tells us otherwise. That is exactly why Lane Bryant decided to tackle this issue head on.
Lane Bryant intends to improve body image for all women with this campaign, but its tie to Victoria’s Secret does remind us that Lane Bryant does not cater to smaller women. In fact, Lane Bryant’s main market is women sizes 14 to 28, according to The Washington Post. Customers of Lane Bryant could not shop at Victoria’s Secret, but Victoria’s Secret customers could not shop at Lane Bryant either.
This made me hesitate for a moment and wonder if what Lane Bryant is really doing is just trying to end fat-shaming by skinny-shaming instead. After all, the hashtag used in the advertising campaign refers not only to Victoria’s Secret, but to the failed Victoria’s Secret ‘Perfect Body’ advertising campaign that debuted late last year and seemed to say that skinny is the perfect body.
Lane Bryant’s press release never referenced body size in promoting the campaign except for its mentioning the sizes the company offers. It would seem on second glance that Lane Bryant is genuinely trying to help every woman love her body. However, it is unlikely that any company can be free of this potential for body shaming a group until a company caters to all body types. Companies like Lane Bryant, and even Victoria’s Secret, try to make their customers feel attractive, but in doing so they can prevent other women who cannot buy from their store from feeling that way.
Ultimately, what Lane Bryant is trying to do with its campaign is admirable. The company wants to empower women and make them proud of their uniquely beautiful bodies. More companies should move away from characterizing one body type as ideal, but more companies should also stop selling clothing for just one body type.
Becca Turner can be reached at email@example.com