Stretch marks and Sports Illustrated may not seem like two peas in a pod, but thanks to a beautifully un-retouched ad from Lane Bryant, the two will forever be hand-in-hand.
Just two years ago, I wrote about the inclusion of the first “plus size” model – Ashley Graham (who went on to grace the cover last year) – in SI, and now here we are celebrating stretch marks on the pages of the very same magazine.
On the one hand, it kind of makes you want to scream: it’s 2017 and we’re all tired of seeing models airbrushed to death. At the same time, I’m a big believer in celebrating even the little victories. A young girl is going to see that Lane Bryant ad and see herself. She’s going to see stretch marks. She’s going to see something other than the long-broken “beauty ideal” we’ve been conditioned to fawn over.
She’s going to see something I never saw in media growing up.
It was the summer after my eleventh birthday when I first realized the angry, red marks along my inner thighs. Embarrassed, I began to loathe swimming lessons. I quickly lost interest in gymnastics – I didn’t want to be imperfect. The marks made me imperfect. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-teens when I began wearing shorts that didn’t cover them entirely.
I’ve had stretch marks for two thirds of my life. They’ve faded from the thick, dark red and purple marks to narrow, silver-y blemishes. The skin they cover is soft and a little squishy; it’ll never be as taut as it once was. Despite knowing that most women have them, and even though I’ve not once heard a complaint about them, my stretch marks have often been a source of insecurity for me. I’m sure they have been for others.
I really hope this ad helps curb that.
The model in the unretouched shot, Denise Bidot, shared the photo on her Instagram account just last week, reminding us we can all find a way to accept others and love the skin we’re in.
It's an honor to be in the @lanebryant ad featured in the pages of the 2017 @si_swimsuit , completely unretouched. It's amazing to be a part of the change thats helping women see once and for all that nobody is perfect. We can still be beautiful in spite of our imperfections. It's time we celebrate each other and learn to love the skin we are in. #NoWrongWay #LaneBryant #thisBody #changeishere #loveyourbody #bodypositive #SIswim #sowhatstretchmarks #selflove #bebold
I’ve thrown a little shade at Lane Bryant (and Victoria’s Secret and Dove) for #ImNoAngel, The Perfect Body and The Perfect Real Body campaigns, but as a professional marketer and a 30-year-old woman I know we can’t always get it right every time. This is right.
This is a real body. And it’s beautiful.
(And so is that swimsuit… which I’d sure like to buy so I can show off my stretch marks.)