Remember when you couldn’t walk through the supermarket without being bombarded by supermodels on every magazine cover? Or look at fashion spreads only to find that every woman and man had a perfect Greek-god-like body? How were you expected to buy these products if they’re obviously not made for your and your “imperfect” body? Where do we, as real people, fit into the equation?
1. Dove’s “Real Beauty” Campaign
Lucky for us, the fashion and beauty industries are changing. The most notable change came in 2004 when Dove announced its “Campaign For Real Beauty” featuring everyday women of all shapes and sizes. Dove showed us how harmful these unattainable images of the body are to young people. For ten years, Dove has been celebrating real women in their ads.
Take a look at the image above. These women were carefully selected to span the range of body sizes, races, shapes and age. No longer do we see plastic, heavily Photoshopped women in these Dove ads, and the 10-year campaign is undoubtedly working, by tapping into an ever-growing demographic who would rather see women like themselves on posters and glossies.
Just last year American Eagle brand Aerie launched their Real campaign featuring women of all shapes and sizes wearing their lingerie—with no Photoshopping. They have stated in interviews that this is not just a fad campaign and that they are trying to give their customers a real and genuine experience.
And it shows. The image above may look strange to the casual viewer because it doesn’t feature that flawless, shiny skin we so often see in ads—the kind that truly does look like a Barbie doll’s skin. Wrinkles, skin folds, love handles and dimples are all unretouched and brought to the fore. The idea is to reverse body-shaming and celebrate your size and your characteristics, which aren’t simply “imperfections.” After all, who doesn’t have cellulite?
And even though the Aerie women are still beautiful—still models, after all—this is a trend in right direction.
Last fall, the vintage-indie clothing darling, Modcloth.com, launched their “Truth in Fashion” campaign and put their money where their mouth is by signing a pledge promising they would stop Photoshopping. The “Truth in Advertising Heroes Pledge,” organized by the Brave Girls’ Alliance, sets out terms and conditions limiting the Photoshop practices of those who sign the pledge. By signing, Modcloth has agreed to “do [their] best not to change the shape, size, proportion, color and/or remove/enhance the physical features, of the people in [their] ads in post-production.” ModCloth also agrees to label any photoshopped images with a “Truth in Advertising” label to ensure that “children and teens do not confuse an advertising ‘ideal’ with what’s real.”
Modcloth was the first major clothing retailer to sign the pledge, and it’s clear that their bottom line hasn’t suffered from the change to no-Photoshop. And now, with major celebrities like Amy Schumer celebrating the no-Photoshop trend, it looks like more and more women are craving truth, acceptance and to celebrate their own unique beauty.
The latest trend in mainstream fashion is to use real people’s social media accounts to promote their brand and engage with their customers. Brands will create unique hashtags to interact with other social media users who wear their products. As social media becomes more and more influential and the idea that all body types are fashionable becomes more mainstream I think we will see the fashion and beauty scenes evolving to keep up with the REAL people of the world even more. Maybe we will even see some of the more couture brands engaging with us real people!