The fashion industry promoted a certain body type and image of “perfection” to women for far too long, and some brands have had enough.
It is no secret that the same types of models have been used for years, everywhere from the runway to magazines. The rise of social media amplified these images even more and some brands are working to change the dialogue about what women should look like and what they should wear.
Aerie’s #AerieREAL campaign took over social media when the company announced the end of re-touching on all photos and emphasized the importance of body type inclusivity in the fashion industry. They even collaborated with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), to donate money every time a girl posted a picture of herself using #AerieReal.
Other brands have also adopted this idea, including Missguided, a women’s fashion company. Missguided created the #makeyourmark campaign and competition, which encouraged artists to submit body positive images that embraced “imperfections.” Missguided also promised through Instagram to never retouch or edit their models again. They encourage women to “love themselves, for themselves.” They inspired body acceptance by referring to stretch marks as “tiger stripes” to empower women to see themselves and their “flaws” as beautiful.
So, will more brands follow suit?
Without a doubt, women around the world are attempting to take back fashion. They are speaking out about the need for more diversity in models, calling out photoshopping tactics and unrealistic or unhealthy body types. Some brands have completely dropped the term “plus-sized” and have made efforts to include more women of all sizes, races and backgrounds. Many brand promotions are not only filled with clothing and models, but also with messages about the importance of mental health and being a strong woman in society.
Social media is one of my greatest interests, and I have seen how it can be both good and bad. Social media has impacted the confidence of women, and when only certain types of women are shown, it leaves many out of the conversation. Young girls develop early signs of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and feel that their body does not meet the standard media portrays. As someone entering this field, I would hope that many brands reconsider the message they send to all women and encourage them to embrace themselves fully.
I have been so impressed with the way women have stood beside each other and faced challenges that once seemed impossible to overcome. The structure of what is considered beautiful has hurt far too many women for far too long. Perhaps clothing and fashion brands beginning to attack that construct is the key step in promoting the idea that everyone is beautiful in their own unique way. We should celebrate that. There is certainly a long way to go, but it is inspiring to see the clothing and fashion industry taking positive steps to make sure women everywhere feel beautiful, inside and out.
Livi Wise is a strategic communication major and our incoming VP of Social Media. Follow her on Twitter @LiviWise