I truly want to stand behind Lane Bryant. As a woman who has been fat her entire life, I desperately wish that there was a mainstream brand out there that could finally just get it right. When I saw the “Plus Is Equal” campaign, I truly did feel a bit of hope that maybe they would finally get it right… even if their math is not. A lot of people that I know and admire have been involved with it, so I thought “FINALLY!”
On their website, Lane Bryant clearly states “67% US women are size 14 to 34. Isn’t it time we were equally represented across media and culture?” Sounds like a good idea, right? Lane Bryant has put their beautifully shot (albeit narrowly sized) ad featuring six plus sized models in Vogue magazine and will also be featured on television and in Glamour. Sounds great, right? Well, that same company has never shown a woman over the size of 24 on their Instagram, most CERTAINLY does not show larger plus sized bodies in their advertisements, few dark skinned black women, and does not carry any sizes larger than a 4x/28 in their stores. Clearly, Lane Bryant did not get the memo that maybe they should not quote those same three larger sizes as part of the group that they supposedly represent without actually supplying clothing for those bodies.
What. The. Fuck.
T-shirt idiocy aside, I cannot help but shake my head at those out there who are attacking the bloggers who are part of the campaign. Listen up – writing and blogging is not easy, you will not make a fortune, and you have to take the positive, lucrative opportunities that present themselves. When a major company makes a somewhat positive move and asks you to be part of it, you say yes and make an effort to make it as inclusive as possible for those under represented – especially since you most likely have no way to truly anticipate how that company is going to blow it. When I saw the amount of shade being thrown in blogger and plus size model Natalie Hage’s direction, someone who recently participated in Wear Your Voice’s #DropTheTowel shoot, I had to stop and really look into what was fueling everything.
Writer, activist, and WYV Columnist Virgie Tovar attended the event. Turns out the shirts themselves were not even made in plus sizes! Clearly, LB must have bumped their heads if they are offering a mere small, medium, large, and extra large at an event in which they are supposed to be promoting plus sizes. Pair that with fat phobic comments and weight loss promotion and you have the antithesis of the body positive event!
Not all is lost. As Virgie has pointed out, the most important thing that can come from this complete joke of a campaign is discussion about what is lacking, what you do not want to see associated with your clothing, and what you need from a brand.
1. USE YOUR VOICE. Email the company, use the hashtag on every complaint you have toward them. If their consumers are collectively outspoken enough, they eventually will hear you.
2. YOUR DOLLAR COUNTS. Stop buying from people who do not represent your interests until they start listening.
3. TALK ABOUT IT. If you are a blogger with a voice that they are listening to, speak out. Tell them what is missing and emphasize the importance of representation, inclusion of larger sizes, and a larger focus on dark-skinned women. The world is not expecting you to change things single handedly, but use the slight platform that you have to try to affect change – no matter how miniscule.
The key to this kind of change is to not be complacent. Stay vigilant. You may only be a size 18, but your dollar and your body is what they are counting on for their clientele. If they aren’t going to look out for your fatter friend, why should you support them?
Keep your eyes peeled next week for a fall shopping guide featuring many alternatives to Lane Bryant!