Last month, a heated conversation about what’s conventionally attractive and what constitutes an “indecent” advertisement for television stirred up social media.
ABC and NBC, two of the largest TV networks in the U.S., banned Lane Bryant’s #ThisBody campaign. The company is one of the most recognized names in plus-size clothing, and its campaign is aimed at empowering its customer base to accept their bodies and gain self-confidence.
The brand, which is no stranger to controversy, released a 30-second video on its YouTube channel and then shared it across the rest of its social media platforms. The video starred recognizable plus-size models Precious Lee, Tara Lynn, Denise Bidot, Geornia Pratt and Ashley Graham. Graham is the first ever plus-size model to be featured on the covers of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and Maxim.
In the black-and-white video, the models are shown talking about what their bodies are made for: “turning heads,” “proving them wrong,” “being bold, powerful and sexy,” “loving,” “living,” “rocking denim” and “getting it on” — just a few of the descriptions they provide. They are also shown laughing, moving and posing in underwear, showing “Every curve. Every roll. Every inch. Unapologetic, strong and beautiful.”
Even though there’s some mild nudity, it is no more explicit than Victoria’s Secret ads, which constantly run on the same networks that banned the Lane Bryant campaign. This immediately got people asking why the ban occurred as it enraged women of all shapes and sizes.
Some sources believe it’s a matter of size, not nudity, because thinner women frequently appear in commercials that are already airing — think Victoria’s Secret again. A representative from NBC turned down the #ThisBody ad because it didn’t “comply with broadcast indecency guidelines,” according to the New York Daily News. The Federal Communications Commission defines indecency as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.”
Although the ad has been surrounded by a lot of controversy — as were some older Lane Bryant campaigns such as #PlusIsEqual and #ImNoAngel — its notoriety has helped it go viral in a very short period of time.
The double standards in the fashion industry and the media are nothing new, but advances keep being made every day. Less than a month ago, IMG Models, the same modeling agency behind names such as Kate Moss, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, introduced its new “Brawn” division, which will represent male models that are “big and tall.” The division has already signed its first plus-size male model, 26-year-old Zach Miko. The practice seems to be heavily inspired by the advances seen lately in the female plus-size modeling industry.
Although the campaign hasn’t made its way to television yet, it did accomplish what it intended by starting a conversation that has long been overdue in terms of self-acceptance and tolerance.