This Photographer Wants to #EmpowerAllBodies
While many celebrated Lane Bryant's body-positive "I'm No Angel" campaign — a response to Victoria's Secret's failed "Perfect Body" campaign — others observed that Lane Bryant's plus-size models still fit the idealized hourglass shape. But blogger and activist Jes Baker joined forces with photographer Jade Clark to launch #EmpowerAllBodies, a photo series pushing Lane Bryant to be even more inclusive in its campaign that touts diversity.
"When we, as a society, fail to include diverse bodies in our media, the message becomes clear to those excluded: You are unworthy of taking up space," Baker wrote in an open letter to Lane Bryant CEO Linda Heasley. "It's a powerful message that settles into the core of those who aren't represented. #ImNoAngel, seemingly attempts to convey empowerment for plus-sized women, but instead has continued to perpetuate this exact same message."
"I'm going to ask you to consider including some of the following next time: Cellulite; 90% of women have it," Baker wrote. "Bellies; many plus women don't have flat torsos. All abilities; we're all inherently sexy. Transgender women; they're 'all woman' too. Small boobs and wide waists; we're not all 'proportional.' Stretch marks and wrinkles; they're trophies of a life lived."
Though individuals who refuse to accept Lane Bryant's campaign, Baker wrote, are often told they're "'whining' about a 'first-world problem.'" But writing off these complaints, she says, ignores the damage incurred by failing to represent diverse bodies, including "low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and other severe body image-related issues."
Studies back Baker up: Media representations affect women's self-esteem. Therefore, Baker writes, "it's critical that we #EmpowerALLBodies, and it's more important to do so than we think."
While the body positive revolution certainly hasn't yet been won in mainstream media, efforts like #EmpowerAllBodies demonstrate the important way activists and creatives are pushing back to change body images from the bottom up. Companies like Lane Bryant should embrace the values they promote into future campaigns, bringing us one step closer to truly diverse media representation — it's likely that its consumers will appreciate the effort.