When Lane Bryant released its #ImNoAngel campaign earlier this month, it was immediately hailed as the next frontier of body-positive advertising, as is the case with pretty much every ad campaign that features models who don’t look like they’re prepubescents suffering from a bad case of scurvy.
But activist Jes Baker didn’t find the plus-size lingerie campaign particularly empowering or body-positive. She thought it showcased a disappointingly limited range of bodies. So she decided to launch #EmpowerAllBodies, a photo series by photographer Jade Clark that showcases women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors.
The difference between the two campaigns is pretty stark:
In an open letter to Lane Bryant CEO Linda Heasley, Baker took issue with the homogeneity of the #ImNoAngel campaign, which largely showcased young, attractive white women. “#ImNoAngel only shows ONE shape while redefining the sexy plus women; that shape being the traditional hourglass: a body with a waistline considerably smaller than a larger bust and hips. This is almost always (and is, in this case) accompanied by a flat belly,” Baker wrote.
Baker went on to take issue with Lane Bryant’s casting choices. “You’ve presented the “ideal” plus body: hourglass, perceivably ‘healthy,’ cellulite-free, able-bodied, cis-gender, and ‘conventionally’ beautiful,” she wrote. She suggested that, in the future, Lane Bryant employ models with larger bellies and cellulite as well as women of color and transgender women.
#EmpowerAllBodies isn’t necessarily inherently more subversive than the #ImNoAngel campaign: After all, both campaigns feature women with bodies that are considered non-normative in the mainstream modeling industry, and there’s nothing inherently revolutionary about seeing a bunch of ladies pose suggestively in their underwear. That said, it does seem like the women in the campaign are having a blast—and after all, that’s ostensibly what a campaign empowering women’s bodies is supposed to be about.