We’re surrounded by media every day that influences our body image and self-confidence. We tune into Fashion Police regularly, scroll through Perez Hilton’s celebrity dirty laundry, and page through Seventeen and Cosmo on a daily basis. We oooh and ahhh as we watch models strut their stuff at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, tweeting about going on that diet tomorrow or never eating bread ever again. We idolize thin, often unattainable, and unrealistic models – which cause us to feel negatively about our own bodies, and can be damaging to our self-esteem.
But, there are some companies and celebrities who are doing an awesome job to rewrite society’s definition of beauty. They are leading the fight to feature realistic models and representations of beauty. Their mission is to encourage every woman to love her body and celebrate her uniqueness. Here are 8 of the most notable!
1. Mod Cloth
Mod cloth is one of the few companies out there that often has the same styles in every size. They also label their clothing to be more inclusive. While some stores carry either “plus sized” or “regular” sized, Mod Cloth offers “plus size” or “non plus size”. Mod Cloth recently released images from an awesome photo shoot with their employees, where they modeled swim suits to show that every body and every woman is different. The campaign does not feature models. These are real women. Mod Cloth also does not Photoshop their models or any of their images. In fact, they encourage customers to share photos of themselves in the clothes, to show what the pieces look like on “real women”.
Their message: Swimsuits should not be scary! Clothing fits differently depending on the girl who is wearing it, and you should celebrate that no two bodies are the same.
The Aerie Real campaign launched back in January 2014, featured un-airbrushed models, tattoos, birth marks, and other “imperfections”. Aerie is anti-photoshopping and features unretouched models in everything from swim suits, to yoga pants, to bras and panties. This shows women that there is no need for retouching and altering of your body image. The women in the photographs have real curves and are considered “flawed” by the fashion industry, but Aeries states, “we think it’s time to get real and think real. We want every girl to feel good about who they are and what they look like inside and out. The real you is sexy”. The company features bras, underwear, and loungewear in a variety of sizes, to have a more realistic representation of their customers’ needs.
Their message: The images you see in magazines are often not a realistic representation of real beauty. Your “flaws” are beautiful and you are perfect just as you are.
Dove has really always been a pioneer in “natural beauty” and “real beauty” campaigns. Their marketing features women of all shapes, sizes, body types, and ages. Recently, in their selfie campaign, they went into high schools and asked young women about beauty and the media. They explained that girls “have the power to change and redefine what beauty is. The power is in your hands”. The workshop had girls take selfies, then incorporate things they didn’t life about themselves. Real girls were expressing their real concerns and insecurities, and most were based on what others have said about them. These powerful campaigns shed light on what it’s like to be a woman in our image-obsessed society, and helps rewrite the script about beauty.
Their message: You are beautiful in your own skin, and should celebrate what makes you different.
4. Jennie Runk
Jennie Runk is the first plus sized woman to appear in the H&M swimwear catalog. In an interview with Elle Magizene, Runk says “’I’ve always been confused about the actual size of plus-size models. Every brand sizes differently; it’s hard to discern what size you are. I have things from a size 10 to a 14, some 8s and a 16. If I were in a store, I would pick up a 12 to a 14”. At the beginning of her career, Runk was given the option to lose weight or become a plus sized model. But, Runk knew that health was about a healthy lifestyle and moderation, not over or under eating. “The biggest thing for women to keep in mind is you can’t ever let someone define beauty for you. Look in the mirror and say that “this is my definition of perfection””.
Her message: Be your own definition of beautiful. Don’t let others bring you down.
5. BuzzFeed “One Size Fits All”
BuzzFeed promotes realistic body images throughout their site. My favorite is their “one size fits all” clothing comparisons between women of various sizes. The problem with one size fits most clothing? Clothing should not be made to fit “all women”; it should be tailored to best fit your shape and accentuate your figure. One size fits all should stick to hats, headbands and accessories. BuzzFeed proves that “one size fits all” clothing is flawed, and it’s not a problem with you – it’s the clothes. One girl comments in the video, “they’re making me feel bad if I don’t fit in something that doesn’t fit 90% of the human race”. Another commented “It makes people who are actually quite small feel like there are clothing options that are shut off to them”.
Their message: Not everyone is one size. Celebrate your body and don’t get discouraged by options that might not fit you. Don’t settle. Support clothing labels and pieces that make you look and feel beautiful.
6. Project Gravitas & JAG Models
JAG models are committed to celebrating “more than just a size two”. Co-founder Gary Dakin shares that he wants women to understand that their body is beautiful and that “at 5’9 a 2 is unrealistic”. Lisa Sun founder of Project Gravitas shares that “You have to feel good about your body and yourself before you can project that confidence”. Sun also shares that 95% of women want to see real women in magazines. There are not many “plus sized” models on the runways, and even few in print and television. The duo wants to ensure young girls and women everywhere to celebrate their bodies, and help that by surrounding them with more realistic and diverse images.
Their message: Don’t be discouraged by the images you see in the media. They are often unrealistic. Your body is beautiful just the way it is!
7. Special K
There is a lot of irony in Special K making the list, because they boast dropping “a jean size in just two weeks” by eating their products twice a day. They promote quick weight loss, yet their products are not a long term solution. Most products are not even whole grain. The diet does not teach you about healthy eating or portion control. So, why is special K on this list then?
Their commercials much like Dove’s. In one commercial, they got rid of jean sizes and measured people with words such as “radient” and “confident”. Women then tried on jeans with no pressure about their size. The tag on every pair read “you’re so much more than a number”. In July, Kellogg CEO John Bryant stated “I think consumers are changing their views on weight management, from reducing calories to [adopting] nutritious foods”. New ads focus more on nutrition than weight loss. As consumers, not giving into the “diet fads” and wanting to focus more on living a healthy active lifestyle, we are changing the advertising industry.
Their message: Healthy is more than just dieting and exercising. It’s all about fueling your body with nutrients, and loving your body for all that it is.
8. Tyra Banks
At 40 years old, Tyra is still cool, relevant, and a role model unlike any other. Tyra Banks is a super model who has been very successful in the fashion industry, runs America’s Next Top Model, and openly admits that she is not perfect. “I post pictures with no make-up and a bit of jiggle in my butt” she states. “I get a lot of positive stuff and a lot of negative”. Banks encourages people to stop talking the negative “fat talk” about each other’s and our own bodies. She says online comments can be rude and negative, which is unnecessary and uncalled for. Banks believes that much of the pressure to be thin is coming from the media and role models young girls follow. She felt the pressure herself when she went from a size 4 to a size 6 during her modeling career, and was called fat by models and others in the industry. Her message to young girls and women everywhere is to not listen to the pressure and the negative comments. Love your body just the way it is. If you want to get healthy, cool get healthy! But don’t do it because people are calling you fat. Do it because you want to get in shape, run faster, eat healthier, and live better.
Her message: Don’t let others bring you down and ignore the nasty comments. You are not fat. Stop comparing yourself to people in the media and in magazines.