#PlusIsEqual calls for fashion equality

Lane Bryant's ad campaign #PlusIsEqual, has raised conversation around the fashion industry about equal body representation.

Lane Bryant, a long-established women’s plus size apparel retailer, is launching a national advertising campaign #PlusIsEqual to empower plus size women and call for equal representation of them in the media.

The #PlusIsEqual campaign debut was in in Vogue’s September issue with a photograph shot by fashion photographer Cass Bird, featuring top plus size models Candice Huffine, Ashley Graham, Precious Victoria Lee, Georgia Pratt, Justine Legault and Sabina Karisson. Appearing among photographs of stick thin models that seem to crowd the usual billboards and magazine pages, the ad has raised conversation around the fashion industry and equal body representation.

“Size shouldn’t matter when you’re talking about a woman who just wants to be fashionable,” Graham said in the brand’s press release.

“We’re proud, strong, fashion forward, stylish…same as anyone else, with extra curves,” Huffine said in the same release.

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Following the campaign’s social media launch on Sept. 8, Lane Bryant staged a massive Times Square takeover event on Sept. 14 to invite New Yorkers and women around the world to celebrate their bodies. Hundreds of women gathered there and showed their support.

According to the brand, 67 percent of U.S. women are size 14 to 34, and 92 percent of plus size women feel they’re not equally represented in the media. Lane Bryant asked women to speak and challenge the status quo in fashion and media.

Linda Heasley, the company’s CEO and president, has stressed the need for body acceptance throughout her time at Lane Bryant and continues to do so.

“The inequality exists and we’re continuing to balance the equation,” Heasley said in a statement. “Plus Is Equal. Our women are not only equal they are sexy and fabulous!”

Lane Bryant gets the message across by multiple channels, including stores, website, social media, billboards, TV and magazines. The company also created an app called “My Billboard” that allows users to upload a picture onto a virtual billboard in a city of their choice. So far, the #PlusisEqual campaign has garnered 1,383 supporters and 647,206 for social outreach. The campaign concluded Monday, Oct. 12.

The #PlusIsEqual campaign is a follow up to the brand’s #ImNoAngel campaign last spring, which featured plus size models in its lingerie line “Cacique,” and directly challenged Victoria’s Secret’s “Perfect Body” campaign that solely featured tall and thin women.

Danielle Rammer, a graduate student at the Silver School of Social Work, praised the campaign as a way to change the wrong perception of women in our society.

“I don’t like the unrealistic representation of women on fashion magazines,” Rammer said. “It gives a false idea to men and our society that what a real woman should be. All women should be appreciated no matter what size they are.”

Steinhardt senior Destiny Lopez was also inspired by the movement.

“As a woman with curves, it makes me very proud to see other curving women splatter across the New York City,” Lopez said.

Though most customers appreciate Lane Bryant’s efforts to challenge beauty standards, many of them are criticizing its ad campaign for lack of diversity and failing to reflect all sizes. The six models featured in the #PlusIsEqual only show one shape and size, leaving many in the plus size community unseen.

CAS senior and President of the Feminist Society at NYU, Meghan Racklin was worried about the company’s real motivation.

“I am wary of corporate ‘activism,’ in which the language of established activist movements is appropriated in service of selling a product,” Racklin said. “Lane Bryant’s campaign in particular rings hollow, given this story indicating that when it comes to the representation of their brand, they do not want significant body diversity.”

Email Lingyi Hou at [email protected]

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