Why a Model's Unretouched Bikini Photo Is So Inspiring: 'This Is Positive Body Image At Its Best'

People are raving over Lane Bryant's recent unretouched photo of model Denise Bidot. (Photo: Lane Bryant)
People are raving over Lane Bryant’s recent unretouched photo of model Denise Bidot. (Photo: Lane Bryant)

Celebrating and embracing body diversity is nothing new for plus-size retailer Lane Bryant, but the company’s latest Instagram post shows it is entirely committed to championing that message — without Photoshop.

Plus-size model Denise Bidot is featured in a printed bikini with a striped shirt to promote Lane Bryant’s new Escape Collection. It’s not the nautical look that commenters are raving about, though — it’s the model’s visible stretch marks.

The photo has been flooded with positive comments applauding Bidot for embracing her body and praising the retailer for promoting real women without any retouching. “This is positive body image at its best … giver of life … stretched skin … I love it!” one user commented. “I love that her stretch marks aren’t photoshopped out, love love her beauty!’ another user, Stephanie Alexander, wrote. “Wow, this is awesome. The stretch marks are actually showing,” Katy Hamilton commented. “She is absolutely beautiful. The more you show real women, the less real women are going to feel bad and compare themselves to impossible standards.”

Another follower, Amishia Smith was even tempted to check out the new line after viewing the image, writing, “Omg yes a real person!! Stretch marks and all!! I will have to look into this collection.”

Bidot posted the image on her Instagram channel as well, captioning the post, “Loving this new image and how real it is. Thank you @lanebryant for loving my body, stretch marks and all.” The 30-year-old model was pleased with the image but didn’t expect such a huge response on social media. “As a model I do not have say over whether or not images are retouched or kept authentic,” she told Yahoo Style. “It was refreshing when the images launched and I was really excited to see they did not remove my stretch marks or who I am and let me be free in my body. I think the consumers really appreciated that.”

The post is a huge step for the plus-size retailer, as not many companies use completely unretouched images of models. “We at Lane Bryant simply believe that all women should be seen and celebrated as they are,” Lane Bryant’s chief marketing officer and EVP, Brian Beitler, said in a statement. “Society, and the media continuously project an unrealistic and, frankly, outdated ‘beauty and body standard.'”

The retailer’s recent #PlusisEqual and #ImNoAngel campaigns show Lane Bryant is committed to eradicating the outdated standard by supporting body diversity and inclusivity in all shapes and sizes.

Lane Bryant's 'I'm No Angel' campaign blew up on social media when it was unveiled. (Photo: Courtesy of Lane Bryant)
Lane Bryant’s “I’m No Angel” campaign blew up on social media when it was unveiled. (Photo: Courtesy of Lane Bryant)

These initiatives challenged women to empower one another and redefine conventional standards of beauty in society. Although these campaigns were indeed empowering, some people criticized them for the lack of visible stretch marks on models. This recent Instagram posting shows Lane Bryant is earnest in its efforts to celebrate women’s bodies.

“We are pleased with the reaction the social media posts featuring Denise Bidot has garnered and will continue to promote body-inclusion in fashion and media. And we encourage all brands and their leaders to reflect more diversity of all types in their advertising and product considerations,” Beitler said.

Bidot explained that she has struggled with retailers retouching her images in the past, specifically her stretch marks, but has always strived to show her true self to her fanbase. “For so long society has pushed us into a corner were we couldn’t be real,” she said. “We had to be photo shopped and airbrushed to be liked and thought of as sexy. But I think we are beyond that, and we need to start encouraging women to love who they are — imperfections and all. It is amazing to see how our industry has changed. So many things that used to be not okay are now being embraced and loved equally.”

NEW ✨ #thereisnowrongwaytobeawoman

A video posted by Denise Bidot (@denisebidot) on Dec 8, 2016 at 10:42am PST

“It’s nice to see that someone got it and understood that there is beauty in all women’s bodies and not just one sided retouched bellies. You can have stretch marks and be proud of who you are,” she added.

Many high-profile models, like Bidot and Ashley Graham, are working to represent the 67 percent of women in the United States who are considered plus-size (size 14 and up). This vast market is often neglected by designers, but through the many different plus-size campaigns popping up, retailers like Lane Bryant are working to change that.

“We see all women — all people — as beautiful, important, and worthy of being celebrated. That’s why we’ve launched these campaigns to feature incredible women like Ashley Graham, Danielle Brooks, Gabourey Sidibe, and Denise Bidot, who are breaking boundaries with their confidence and talent,” Beitler said.

As a high-profile model in industry, Bidot has dealt with a number of body shamers in the past, but she chooses to pay no attention to them.

“There is no need to dwell on negative commentary,” she said. “It’s really important to keep your vision clear and always keep things positive. I would rather look at the hundreds of comments that are positive than the one that wasn’t. I’m really lucky that my audience is really positive and understands this. So I have to say I don’t really get the negative body shamer comments, but I also wouldn’t pay attention to them if I did. Keep your head up know that you are beautiful even if someone else doesn’t see it.”

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