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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

#PlusIsEqual?

It's less than two weeks since 'that' #StyleHasNoSize saga (see here) and, already, yet another brand doesn't seem to understand that 'promoting' body positivity and diversity is not a marketing gimmick.

Lane Bryant's (a well-known US plus size retailer) #PlusIsEqual campaign launched this week, calling upon under-represented plus size women to "represent"; "67% of US women are size 14 to 34. But they’re under-represented on billboards, magazines, TV…everywhere. We believe all women should be seen and celebrated equally. See what people are saying. Add your voice and join us in calling for equal representation."

Hold up, LB; can you explain to me how using the same standard 'plus size' models as every other campaign of a similar nature correlates with "equal representation"? Whilst you're thinking about that, can you explain how you can justify excluding sizes 30-34 from your #PlusIsEqual t-shirt size range (14-28)? FYI, 'that's our size range' (pretty much the answer you gave to a fellow blogger on Twitter) isn't a valid response; especially when you were selling said t-shirts at your 'rally' (on Monday) in sizes S-XL (which is even more appalling, if that's even possible).

Speaking of valid responses, I am no less than disgusted at the amount of well-known plus size industry folk (particularly US bloggers) supporting this campaign. You might find the term 'disgusting' a tad harsh but, considering viewing the related social media on Monday was making me feel physically sick, I find it to be an appropriate term. How anyone can agree that 'plus is equal' in Lane Bryant's terms or otherwise is beyond me, but what I find even more infuriating is when people do this without even acknowledging the 'counterargument'. Granted, this isn't the case with everyone, and I was more than pleased to see Callie Thorpe bringing a dose of reality to the conversation on Twitter and reassuring me that there are still 'high end' bloggers out there that are in touch with the community.

Speaking of Twitter, if you're following me (and/or other fat activists) you may have noticed #IfPlusWasEqual. Originally coined by Alysse Dalessandro (you should totally check out her Bustle article on the subject, btw), followed by myself and others, the hashtag was used on Monday (the day of the 'rally') to express the many ways in which plus is not equal and (most likely) never will be. #IfPlusWasEqual people's body image wouldn't be used as a marketing playground. We wouldn't have to 'rally' and listen to a size 10 fatphobic woman tell us 'plus is equal' whilst also enforcing diet culture.

You can read more about Monday's rally in Virgie Tovar's article here. I'm going to leave you with this quote from said article, as it resonated with me (as most of Virgie's writing does tbh): 'Lane Bryant is not alone in their attempt to capitalize on the language of a politic that they do not in fact support. This tendency to trot out the skin of a gutted politic is not new. We have been watching Cosmo co-opt feminism for years and the spice Girls claim "Girl Power." This is just the latest in a chain of the misguided and exploitative use of hard-won language and movement growth. I don't have any problem with a company wanting to clothe a new generation of plus-size women, but we deserve better than this.'

6 comments:

  1. They honestly think they can just give us any old crap and we'll clap like seals. Absolutely clueless but more than happy to lap up our money.

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    1. Exactly (trying not to laugh at the seal comment but it's so true)! It's all about the fat pound (ha).

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  2. I'm so tired of all this BS right now. When will these companies listen to their customers? That's all they have to do. If they spent as much time listening to us as they do patronising us we'd be happy. xx

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    1. Unfortunately whilst there's still people buying this BS (literally) they don't 'need' to. Strangely enough 'Plus is Equal' responded on Twitter but don't seem to understand anything (or don't want to as is more likely the case).

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  3. "Disgusting" is a perfect word for it!

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