In April, Lane Bryant launched a new campaign featuring top plus-sized models, such as Ashley Graham who is famous for being the first plus-size model to be featured in Sport’s Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition. The Lane Bryant campaign slogan is “I’m no angel” and these “non-angels” are modeling lacy lingerie from Lane Bryant’s Cacique line. Although some people believed that the slogan might have been a jab at Victoria’s Secret angels, Linda Heasley, Lane Bryant CEO and President, told Today.com that the slogan is “only a reminder that sexy comes in all shapes and sizes.” [i] Heasley also stated, “It’s about helping all women to feel great about themselves. And if it gets people to stop and have a good laugh, that’s great.”
With its “I’m no angel” campaign, Lane Bryant wanted to spark a conversation about redefining sexy. Lane Bryant actually encouraged fans to give their input on social media using the hashtag #ImNoAngel. Although many of the comments about the lingerie ads are uplifting and supportive (no pun intended), there are also some comments from some people who feel that the advertisement does not represent all women and that even the plus-size models in the ad are not a good representation of plus-size women. Someone posted a comment stating that the models weren’t “curvy” enough. Someone else criticized the campaign by pointing out the fact that Lane Bryant is brand that caters to plus-size women and therefore isn’t doing anything different with this campaign. While some fans praised Lane Bryant and suggested that the company run the advertisement on television, others talked about how this campaign is just the brand’s marketing technique to increase sales to its regular customers. The “I’m no angel” campaign definitely sparked a conversation; and that conversation starts with the question, “What is sexy?”
Fortunately, the definition of sexy is not concrete. The idea of what is sexy is forever changing. However, women today still feel pressured to live up to an extremely thin body shape. This is evident by the surge in diet pills and program and in the increase in the number of plastic surgeries that have been performed in the last decade. The desire to be unbelievably thin can even be seen in recent fashion trends, such as waist trimmers, corsets and skinny jeans. Yet, if you look back through history you’ll find that it wasn’t always like this.
There was a time, believe it or not, when women were celebrated for their own natural bodies, and not some body that came from a pill, product, or procedure. Many paintings from the Renaissance period depicted voluptuous women who were considered sexy and beautiful. By today’s standards most of the women in those paintings would labeled as full-figured or plus-size, but that does not make them any less sexy.
During the post-war period in the 1950’s, a fuller figure was the ideal body image for women. Having a voluptuous body during this time was highly desired. During a time when “pin-up girls” were popular, brilliant artist, Duane Bryers, created illustrations of sexy pinup girl named Hilda who was full-figured and beautiful.
Even though larger, fuller-figured women were celebrated, the celebration soon dwindled. In the 1960s woman became obsessed with being skinny[ii]. They wanted to be skinny like some of the popular models of that era like the famous Twiggy who was known for her thin frame (hence the name).
It is getting harder and harder to look like today’s popular models. Twenty years ago the average model only weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today models weigh 23 % less. As the idea of sexy changes, women try to change their bodies to match that idea instead of accepting their own bodies and realizing they don’t need to look like someone else in order to be sexy. According to Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, researchers found out that “exposure to media depictions of thin female models lead women and girls to overestimate their own bodies, and report lower self-esteem.” Also, a Glamour magazine survey revealed that 97% of its readers said that they have at least one “I hate my body” thought a day and women have an average of 13 negative body thoughts a day.[iii]
So, do we need to redefine what sexy means today? That is a noble idea, but unnecessary. Sexy does not need to be redefined. Sexy needs to be recognized. A woman does not have to be a size 2 to be sexy, nor does she have to be a size 22. All a woman has to do is love and accept herself and realize that she does not have to be what someone else considers “perfect.” In the words of Lane Bryant CEO and president, “sexy comes in all shapes and sizes.” The sooner women can stop looking at others to show them what is sexy, the sooner they will see their own sexy selves.
Video Courtesy of Lane Bryant
By: Angela Lewis