Words By Lucy Shanahan
Edited By Dean Leibowitz
A few weeks ago, AMFAM took to the hashtag haven that is Instagram to talk about lingerie company Lane Bryant’s campaign for their latest line, Cacique. ICYMI, the ad features plus size models down to their knickers and looking super sexy, and all of them agree, “I’m No Angel”. In other words, I am not, nor do I want to be, a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
The body image debate saturates social media, but unfortunately isn’t always followed through with tangible examples, mainly because there aren’t any. The responses roughly fell into two camps. The first loved the campaign and applauded Lane Bryant for showcasing beautiful women who were different from the models we’re used to seeing in lingerie. These women are hot, they’re sensual, they’re real.
But others scrutinised the intention of the ad. Many argued that modelling is not for everyone. Fashion is art – it doesn’t try to represent women realistically. Lingerie ads are essentially photos of meltingly seductive goddesses that hypnotise us mere mortals into thinking “I WANT THAT”.
#ImNoAngel represents a broader section of society, but is it ‘real’? Shot in black and white, with great camera work and flattering lighting, plus a team of hair and make up artists, it’s a decadently delicious campaign. But it’s not really different from any other. One Instagram follower posted:
My only issue with this ad is that it polarises fat and skinny, pitting one against the other. Rather than encouraging a fluidity of beauty that transcends across different shapes and sizes, Lane Bryant are directly taking on the Victoria’s Secret Angels.
‘Gramers took to the feed in defence of VS models. Angel status is a mark of career achievement, and we should acknowledge that hard work goes into reaching that goal. Alessandra Ambrosio, Karlie Kloss and Lily Aldridge are not overnight successes. They weren’t chosen because they were thin. They were chosen because they’re strong, they command presence, and they’ve spent the better half of their adult lives carving out their place in fashion. Minimising modelling to picking ‘skinny’ over ‘fat’ is an ignorant way of categorising a multi-million dollar creative industry.
Modelling is a profession like any other – a model’s attitude and energy during a shoot transcends through the results. After twenty-one cycles of America’s Next Top Model and countless spin-offs, I’ve seen enough to know that a smize goes a long way. A great model will embody a character and compel us to empathise with them, using only subtle movement and nuanced expressions. Inner beauty doesn’t discriminate, and it makes for a really powerful campaign.
What’s fantastic about Lane Bryant is that it is driving a dialogue. Whichever side of the argument we might choose, it’s great to have everyone hash it out. Toyin Graham, a representative for Lane Bryant told Bustle magazine that ‘this campaign message is all inclusive. Our issue is not with certain sizes of women, it’s with media’s definition of ideal beauty’. It is an issue worth debating, especially considering the psychological and physiological points at stake. In the wake of new weight regulations for runway models in France, to FDA guidelines in America now encouraging lighter consumption of meat and carbohydrates, how do we strive to empower all women to feel happy and healthy?
Erasing the stigma is one way. Oddly, the public still finds it jarring to see plus size women in a sensual context. Addition Elle, another plus size lingerie company, recently featured Ashley Graham in their campaign, only to have the commercial banned from TV for being too provocative. Instead, it was shown in cinemas before 50 Shades of Grey. TV networks are happy to rake in the dosh when screening the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, but squirm away from ads that show plus size women being sexy.
For Lane Bryant, “the women who wear Cacique know that sexy comes in many shapes and sizes. They’re no angels – and they own it”. The campaign encourages women to engage in the conversation by posting photos of themselves in lingerie with the hashtag #ImNoAngel.
Sexy doesn’t stop at size 14. Nor does it start at size 8, or 5 ft 11, or a DD cup. The most beautiful women are the ones who glow from the inside out. At the end of the day, I love a woman who’s confident.