Ashley MacInnis: The Frenzied Fashionista


PSA: There's No Such Thing as a Perfect "Real" Body

Why Are We Tearing Each Other Down When We Should Be Supporting One Another?

Fashion retailer Lane Bryant launched its #ImNoAngel advertisements on Monday, featuring models Ashley Graham, Marquita Pring, Candice Huffine and more. It’s not hard to see that this campaign is a big ol’ bitch slap in the face of Victoria’s Secret The Perfect Body campaign. In a short video, the models share their ideas of beauty before wrapping it up with “I’m not angel. I’m all kinds of sexy.” 
The imagery is nothing short of gorgeous and I love that we’re pushing back and challenging the conventional beauty standards. The campaign has gone wildly viral, with many women joining in the #ImNoAngel movement on Twitter and Instagram. Their photos? No less beautiful than you'd expect. 
#ImNoAngel comes at a time when we are debating the use of “plus size” in “plus size model” (my take: a model is a model; no need for additional labels). Earlier this year, #DropThePlus was created by author Ajay Rochester and Stefania Ferrario, while model and activisit Tess Munster started #EffYourBeautySyandards. These campaigns are contributing enormously to the conversations we need to be having: fair representation of various body types, sizes and colours in fashion and media. 
Lane Bryant isn’t the first brand to take a shot at the Victoria’s Secret, with Dove launching a “The Perfect Real Body” campaign shortly thereafter. But here’s the thing: it’s a whole lot of jabbing when we could be doing a whole lot of supporting one another.
The perfect “real” body can’t be embodied in one photo of a handful of women because you can’t represent the actual number of “real”, beautiful bodies out there in one campaign.
In a conversation with a friend last night, I said I felt like the continuous back and forth is beginning to feel like Body Shaming Wars. It turned into a bit of an argument. She pointed out that I’d never been “plus size” and she’s right, but I’ve looked in the mirror more times than I can count and felt shame about my body. I’ve looked in the mirror and felt shame in the last month. The last week. 
I’m not denying that we need diversity and acceptance in the fashion industry. We do. I believe that Dove and Lane Bryant are trying to create positive change. I also believe that we're missing the mark when we declare one body shape more beautiful or more sexy than another.
We need stores that cater to women from from XS to XXL and beyond. We need to show our sons and daughters that bodies come in different shapes, sizes, colours and abilities. We need to show our kids that their worth isn’t in the size of their ass but the fact they didn't sit on it when someone needed a helping hand.
We need to stop with the jabs. We need to stop taking shots and one another and start being more supportive and accepting. We really need to stop with “This is beauty,” “No, THIS is beauty,” because tearing down one body shape – even an unrealistic one that’s long been perpetuated as beauty ideal – is still tearing down a body shape. It’s still body shaming. 
I don’t see my body shape reflected in any advertisements. Like loads of women, I am petite with barely any curves. I have a short torso and exactly no ass. I’ve got stretch marks and cellulite and some squish on my belly. I’m not tall like the Victoria’s Secret models. I’m not curvaceous like the Lane Bryant models. I’m not going to get any taller, and without surgical intervention I sure as hell won’t have “girls” like Ashley Graham. 
 There is no such thing as the perfect real body. There are only real bodies.