Lane Bryant’s Banned Commercial Hits the Mark, Almost
In case you missed the recent brouhaha, Lane Bryant, the retailer for plus-sized gals, created a sexy new lingerie commercial with a full-figured model strutting her stuff (see below). Fox and ABC refused to air the commercial during American Idol last week, and Lane Bryant is (rightly) crying “double standard” for denying this ad while running Victoria Secret’s Naked commercials all over the place.
I watch Fox programs with my 13-year-old daughter Ruby, and we are forever seeing Victoria Secrets’ models prance around as angels or assorted other ethereal creatures, and we mostly grunt our mutual distaste at how silly they are. I wish we had seen this new commercial together, because I can imagine shrieking with delight, then talking with her about how refreshing it is to see a real-sized woman modeling lingerie.
Girls need to see more imagery like this if we ever hope to counter the relentless cultural programming they receive equating thinness with sexiness. (Check out the organization About Face, which calls out obnoxious media imagery and helps empower girls to accept their bodies.) When Ruby was five she drew a picture of a curvaceous mermaid and showed it to me. I told her the mermaid was beautiful, and then she proceeded to ask if I thought her mermaid was fat. I replied “yes, and she’s so beautiful” but she would have none of it, grabbing the paper back and insisting on drawing a new, thinner mermaid. I remember wondering where in the heck she picked that up so young.
I think the single biggest issue most girls struggle with (their whole lives) is body image. From very early on they are exposed to legions of women (mothers, aunts, sisters, friends, teachers, TV characters) all expressing their dissatisfaction with their bodies, and frankly we well-intentioned moms are powerless to stop it. (My girls and I have dinner with my parents once a month and my folks are incapable of eating a meal without talking about going on a diet, despite my earnest requests to stop!). So Lane Bryant’s commercial would have been a welcome slice of strawberry pie in a world full of fat-free vanilla custard.
But, I must indulge my one criticism. The ad copy was clever, playing on common statements moms make to their daughters about beauty…until they get to the punch line: “So sexy, so not what your mom would wear.” Yeah, yeah, I know young women don’t want to think their moms wear thongs or lacy underwear, but plenty of moms do, so let’s give that old stereotype a rest while we’re at it, eh Lane Bryant?!