It goes without saying that the inclusion of all body types in mainstream advertising is a long-awaited and much-needed change. For as long as we can remember, we’ve been fed images that assume lighter—both in skin tone and weight—is better and a standard everyone should measure themselves against. But in 2018, a year when political upheaval and activism are becoming increasingly important, we’re saying “boy, bye” to that ridiculous rule.
Thankfully, brands with major influence are doing their part too by making significant changes to the way their promote their products. Although the occasional Photoshop fail can actually be humorous, we’re ecstatic that it’s being eliminated from advertising altogether.
And while we’re not sure if keeping it all the way real has a positive influence on sales, we’re personally excited (and motivated to shop) whenever we the consumers see ourselves reflected in ads online, in stores, and inside magazines. Ahead are 10 brands leading the charge with their contribution to this sector of the body-positive movement.
Since 2014, Aeropostale's sister brand has launched ad campaigns using only unretouched images of their models. Their most recent campaign, called #AerieREAL, features Aly Raisman, Yara Shahidi, Rachel Platten, and Iskra Lawrence.
Our love for Target grew exponentially when the 2017 ( and now, 2018) swimwear ads were released sans Photoshop. "We loved working with these women because they embody confidence and inspire women to embrace and be proud of who they are, regardless of their size or shape. It was important to us to use photography that represented their true beauty, without filters," said Target spokeswoman Jessica Carlson to Refinery29.
In 2014, the retro/vintage fashion retailer became the first brand to sign a no-Photoshop pledge titled "Heroes Pledge for Advertisers," vowing not to "change the shape, size, proportion, color and/or remove/enhance the physical features" of their models.
In 2014, Vanessa Hudgens headlined her second Bongo campaign by forgoing Photoshop for the ads. The #BongoGetsReal hashtag was created to further promote the brand's new outlook on unfiltered ads.
"It’s so important for girls to remember that real beauty shines from within, and I’m so proud that Bongo is choosing to send such a positive message with this campaign," Hudgens said at the time of its release.
Back in 2004, the beauty brand marked new territory when it became the first brand to show women of all shapes and sizes sans Photoshop. The "Campaign for Real Beauty" was followed by "Evolution," a time-lapse video that spotlighted the efforts marketing companies make to convince us that blemish-free skin and a small frame are the keys to looking beautiful.
Starting in April 2018, the drugstore chain will stop retouching photos taken for its in-store beauty brands, in an effort to show more realistic images of beauty.
“As a woman, mother, and president of a retail business whose customers predominantly are women, I realize we have a responsibility to think about the messages we send to the customers we reach each day,” said Helena Foulkes, president of CVS Pharmacy and executive vice president, CVS Health, to People.
Although it hasn't been officially been confirmed by the fashion e-retailer, social media users praised ASOS back in June 2017 after realizing that models in the swimsuit section appeared to look unfiltered, with stretch marks on full display.
In the fall of 2017, Swedish model Arvida Byström braved online harassment and threats after appearing in an ad campaign for Adidas's Superstar range baring her au naturel hairy legs.
“Me being such an abled, white, cis body with its only nonconforming feature being a lil leg hair. Literally I’ve been getting rape threats in my DM inbox. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to not possess all these privileges and try to exist in the world. Sending love and try to remember that not everybody has the same experiences being a person," she wrote in an Instagram while addressing the controversy.
Since at least 2016, the online retailer has made an effort to not only feature models of all shapes and sizes but avoid retouching them during shoots as well.
"We don’t alter the shapes of our models, we don’t airbrush their bodies, these are real women who enjoy feeling comfortable in their own skin. They are beautiful," says a statement on their website.
This New Zealand–based lingerie brand may be the only intimates label that consistently embraces body positivity in its marketing efforts, both on the website and throughout social media.
In 2016, it recruited "Girls" stars Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke for a campaign that featured unretouched images.