I was involved this week in a robust conversation about plus sized clothier Lane Bryant’s “We’re No Angels” campaign. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at this picture of those ‘plus sized’ models.
Those really very attractive models.
Those still airbrushed models.
Let’s face it, if I (and maybe you) was in that photo, there’d be stretch mark covered bellies and saggy boobs and a little rash where my armpit meets my back fat. There’d be a meat apron trying to escape out the top and bottom of those pretty panties. There’d be a bikini line that will never see a bikini, not because I don’t feel I can wear a bikini, but because ain’t nobody got time for the maintenance. It would essentially be a bodily representation of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
We want to see real bodies, but not really real bodies. Instead, we get what they think we want: Pretty, sanitized fat. So even if you feel better that they’re using “real bodies” in ads, they still look better than you do. You can’t even be the right kind of fat. The whole idea behind advertising is the promise of product that will make your life better. The question here is, is there something wrong with your life now? Is it something that underwear is going to fix?
Then there’s the tagline: We’re no angels. A pointed jab at the Victoria’s Secret ‘angels’; just as pretty, just as sexy, but decidedly slimmer. The implication is clear – we’re no angels, because we’re better. Instead of fat shaming, we’re going to skinny shame. A size 2 woman is just as ‘real’ as a size 16. When we learn that our self worth isn’t only dependent on building ourselves up, but on not breaking others down?
The most burning question this ad raises is why are they all laughing? Did the girl second from the left pass gas (and everyone but the woman in white is amused. She was raised to despise potty humor.) Is hanging out with your girlfriends wearing nothing but carefully coordinated bra and panty sets really that much fun? Are the rest of us missing out on something? Maybe I’ll suggest this for our next girls night out.
“OK, I want everyone to come over in their underwear (and make sure it matches!). We’re going to stand uncomfortably close to one another and giggle. It’ll be a blast!”
That might get me kicked out of Bunco.
If companies want to appeal to ‘real’ woman, maybe they should start being real themselves. Stop trying to make me feel better about being too fat or too thin, too plain or too pretty. Stop making me a social experiment and let me make the decision on whether or not I’m an angel.
Stop selling me my self worth and just sell the underwear.