Viral campaigns are the key to any successful business. Lane Bryant just launched one of the most talked about viral explosions around a plus size brand in my recent memory. There is nothing more topical than the skinny vs. curvy vs. fat debate. From the #droptheplus hashtag created by working plus size models who reject the word “plus” while working as a plus models to #effyourbeautystandards created to celebrate ones’ individual standard of beauty. Social media has driven this conversation forward and created great dialogue around it.
The #ImnoAngel campaign brilliantly crafted by Lane Bryant at first glance was a response to the Victoria’s Secret “Perfect Body” campaign that featuring their iconic angels with their perfect thin frames presented as the ideal. I was upset with the “Perfect Body” campaign and became angry at the #ImnoAngel campaign too.
After witnessing the #ImNoAngel campaign, the following questions came to me. Why should I repel the idea of a Victoria’s Secret model in much the same way that my larger frame is repelled by society? They feature models who are thin, real women who are actually thin and deserve to have the same respect that I demand. How is this embracing all women? How is this inclusive to all sizes? Aren’t we doing what we accused them of?
Instead of voicing my initial thoughts and opinions, I waited a while until the hype calmed down and I read the responses to the campaign from the models featured, company heads and the plus consumer. Overwhelmingly everyone was excited about a brand that actually wanted to see them, who echoed their sentiments. Being an “Angel” is not reflective of the average consumer. The #ImNoAngel campaign, maybe just a viral campaign for some, but for others it became an opportunity to talk about how they felt ignored not just by a retailer but by the people in their lives. I even saw a Facebook friend declare she unfriend someone who posted a crude joke about fat people and closed her rant with #ImNoAngel. That is the power of social media.
Lane Bryant wanted to capture the demographic that Victoria’s Secret left behind and say with a resounding hashtag “We are here for you.”
I understand that at the end of the day it is a business and Lane Bryant has created a campaign that made you want to see what they had to offer with beautiful choices that rivaled Victoria’s Secret. So why didn’t this sit well with me? Why was I so bothered by it? Then it hit me…I was putting way to much responsibility on a brand to speak for me. Lane Bryant as a brand shouldn’t bear the weight of speaking for the size acceptance community but they have been forced to. They are asked questions about self-esteem and society’s perceptions of beauty, all discussions that are unfairly placed on a retailer to answer. After all it is just underwear, right?
I realized my frustration was not with Lane Bryant, the hashtag or Victoria’s Secret. My frustration is that once again the issues that plague the plus community are relegated to what we wear. As if a pretty bra would make me no longer tolerate the prejudices I feel in my life. Like being able to wear a thong in my size would make me love myself enough to not allow negative forces in my space, that it would force an employer to pay me equally or that the sparkles on my nips would not make someone look at me and make judgments on my health.
Clothes don’t have the power to do any of those things and it may all seem superficial to some. But for me having a convertible bra that is pretty and can support these triple E’s so that I can wear a halter top and let these fat arms and shoulders get some sun makes me feel incredible. I found that at Lane Bryant when I couldn’t find it anywhere else. Wearing pretty lace panties in my size makes me feel adventurous, sexy and secretive, not keeping Victoria’s Secret but a secret all my own. Having a pretty dress or a power suit may not change the trajectory of my life but for the time that I wear it I feel unstoppable and powerful. When I feel down I wear a vibrant color. I am not at all suggesting that simply putting on a fuchsia top will cure my ills as well as all of societies. It is the way that anything makes me feel that matters.
How I adorn my beautiful curves honors the woman I am, I care enough about these rolls to wrap them in vibrant colors and fabrics that make me happy. Not anyone else, just me. I have the perfect body for me, I may be an Angel today but a devil tomorrow. I am all those things and so much more.
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