These 6 Brands Are Embracing What Real Bodies Look Like—And We’re Loving Every Second

by Marissa Dubecky

It’s no secret that we live in a world where the media constantly, repeatedly, over and over and over again (do you get the idea?) forces one narrow idea of ‘beauty’ in our faces. Last year, Victoria’s Secret made the mistake of marketing that image as the “perfect body,” and naturally, people got upset. First of all, as a culture we’d probably all benefit from erasing the word “perfect” from our vocabulary. And second of all, who’s to say anyone at all (especially a brand) gets to define what the so-called “perfect body” is?

Luckily, there have been some positive shifts in companies’ marketing strategies within the past few years. Brands are slowly starting to realize that by embracing what real women look like, they’ll appeal to more people. It sounds obvious, but after relying on cutting down consumers’ self-esteem for so long to sell their products, it makes sense a transformation wouldn’t happen overnight (though we seriously wish it would).

Here are 6 brands we’re excited to see pushing in the right direction by representing real bodies:

1. Dear Kate – An underwear company itself, Dear Kate responded to Victoria’s Secret’s “perfect body” campaign with an awesome letter and gorgeous counter-image promoting body diversity:

“Through this photo, we showcase women who are often neglected by the media and traditional retailers. We show the multitude of shapes perfect bodies can take.”

2. Aerie – A branch off of American Eagle, Aerie decided last year to stop airbrushing their models, with the tagline “the girl in this ad has not been retouched.” One of Aerie’s stylists told Good Morning America: “They are still models, they’re still gorgeous, they just look a little more like the rest of us. We’re hoping to break the mold. … We hope by embracing this that real girls everywhere will start to embrace their own beauty.” Sales jumped 9%, proving that the positive message resonated with the public.

3. Dove – Though it’s not a clothing company, we have to give Dove credit for putting real bodies on TV a few years ago with their Real Beauty campaign. In terms of marketing, this was a revolutionary move. And while we wish we didn’t have to fight so hard for different kinds of bodies to be valued in the media, we’re glad this campaign got real ladies some exposure.

4. Modcloth – Last summer, ModCloth became the first company to sign the “Heroes Pledge For Advertisers,” promising not to “change the shape, size, proportion, color and/or remove/enhance the physical features” of the models in their advertisements. The CMO of ModCloth explained that signing the pledge was a “no brainer,” considering the brand has worked directly with designers to create chic clothing for real women’s diverse shapes and sizes since its founding in 2002.

5. Old Navy – This one’s a bit of a stretch, given that the company’s fairly questionable choices regarding their plus-size clothing came to light late last year. But on the bright side, they responded to the criticism by creating a customer panel that meets four times a year to discuss plus-size fashion and are now featuring plus-size models on their website. And most importantly, the media’s attention to the issue and the public’s response proved how much real women want clothes made for real women: Target even took note and is launching a (hopefully) stylish plus-size fashion line.

6. Monif C. – When Monif Clarke first started a clothing line for plus-women inspired by high fashion, retailers weren’t interested in buying from her. Once they saw her success, though, their tones changed. Clarke’s line proves plus-size women are fashion-forward. Says Clarke:

“It took me many years to appreciate my curves and recognize them as a plus and not a minus. I know there are women like me who recognize that we get dressed everyday in the hopes of reflecting creatively what we bring to the world. I was tired of buying the standard uniform that every plus size woman has, I needed luxurious feminine clothes that make a statement…”

Take that, Brandy Melville. Real women rule. 


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