You see them all the time: Women on billboards, in magazines, on TV, wearing next to nothing, showing as much skin as is legally allowed. It’s harmless enough when Hannah Davis provocatively poses on the cover of Sports Illustrated or the Victoria’s Secret Angels appear in ads, but when plus size retailer Lane Bryant followed suit in 2010, it was called “provocative” and “unfit” for wide audiences. In the five years since the controversy, fuller-figured women have fought to make their voices heard—and bodies seen. There’s been a dramatic shift, and controversy now it’s companies that narrowly constrict their beauty ideals that earn negative headlines. So Lane Bryant is back; today they launch a new campaign called #ImNoAngel promoting body diversity and celebrating their multi-sized clientele.
Candice Huffine on what conversation she hopes the campaign starts: “I hope it gets people’s attention to see that sexy really does come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve been saying it for years and now we’re in your face so you can’t help but notice.”
Starring popular models Ashley Graham, Marquita Pring, Candice Huffine, Victoria Lee, Justine Legaultand, and Elly Mayday, the images and video were shot by famed fashion photographer Cass Bird. The women proudly wear the brand’s new lingerie line Cacique, showing off their bodies in just bras and underwear. They’re happy and smiling, celebrating themselves and exuding confidence, the campaign’s core message. “We want to put front and center that beauty comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes. We chose these women for the campaign to demonstrate that,” Lane Bryant’s CEO Linda Heasley tells Yahoo Style.
Ashley Graham on what #ImnoAngel means to her: “Every body on it’s own is beautiful and that you can accept yourself and see that you are beautiful no matter what.“
Despite previous backlash, Lane Bryant isn’t playing it safe. In fact, with their tagline the company is almost provoking debate. “We admire Victoria’s Secret and what they’ve done, it’s an amazing brand, but we also feel that they are very narrow potentially in their appeal and in defining what beauty is,” Heasley says. “We believe strongly that the world needs to be put on notice: Fat-shaming is bad and what is the definition of normal anyway, when more than 50 percent of the American female population is size 12, 14, or larger?” Heasley notes that there wasn’t any hesitation when it came to attaching this potentially goading dispatch. “Come at us! And I think that will be part of the conversation! How do you say these women are not beautiful? And why is this not appropriate too?”
Elly Mayday on being included in the campaign: “It means a lot to be a part of something that hopefully will impact people in a positive way. Hopefully it will show that our imperfections make us beautiful and also make people in the industry rethink what is beautiful.”
The brand’s latest venture is just their latest play for influence. Heasley says they’ve been making a play for “fashion justice” via their desligner collaborations, which offer non-straight sized women cool clothing. “I am proud of what the brand is trying to do. When we asked Isabel Toledo, Lela Rose, and Sophie Theallet, all three of them got this concept,” she says. “Don’t use the filter of size first, start first with design and fashion and interpret for whatever her size might be. I think that’s part of changing the conversation, not having any preconceived notions as to what trends the woman that we celebrate should wear.” All women deserve fashion, she notes. So much so that Heasley admits: “We are militant about making sure our client gets what she deserves.” And every woman—not just the angelic ones—deserves sexy lingerie that makes her feel like a babe.