Retailers are making headlines for using women of all shapes and sizes in their ad campaigns – but some critics say there’s still a long way to go.
Wear Your Voice magazine introduced the #BeyondBeauty initiative to “imagine a world where all bodies are celebrated, regardless of size, race, gender expression, disability or religious background,” creative director Rachel Otis writes in an editorial.
For the campaign, the magazine shot 18 women of varying “shapes, sizes, gender expressions, sexualities, and colors,” to “better represent a wider spectrum of bodies.”
Wear Your Voice Editor-in-Chief Ravneet Vohra says that they wanted to use their platform to bring greater awareness to the self-doubt young girls often feel about the standards they see from advertisers.
“As a media publication, we understand the responsibility media plays in our lives. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures while 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape,” Vohra explains. “As a mother of two young children, I want to make sure that the next generation of young people don’t inherit our insecurities.”
The magazine says that the idea for the shoot came from disappointment over ad campaigns that claim to show “real” women, yet exist to sell a product.
“There is absolutely nothing we hate more than a body negative campaign created to sell products/make money/thrive off capitalistic culture, disguised as a body positive campaign,” Otis writes.
In response, Wear Your Voices, Otis says this is “a campaign whose only selling point is self-love,” rather than endorsing a product.
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And the photos, which were two years in the making, have not been photoshopped.
“Why would we?” Otis asks. “We believe that everyone deserves to be celebrated as they are!”
Instead, they show each women as a “before” and “after” – but instead of showing a woman who’s heavier in one image, and thinner in the other, they use the same shot for both. Another series includes close-ups of the women with motivating phrases, like “flawed” and “flawless”
“We are daring to look beyond this traditional and limiting idea of “Beauty” to see the strength that not only lies within, but that exudes from all,” says Otis.
Wear Your Voices is asking women to share their story and a selfie with the hashtag, #BeyondBeauty to change the message on social media.
“We encourage all womyn to join in and participate in disrupting the status quo by simply being yourself,” Otis says.