Dear Marketing Heads of Literally Anything,
Based off recent advertisements it seems the word diversity in the context of body image needs to be redefined.
Company after company, advertisement after advertisement continues to promote body positive and diversity but they all seem to be missing one thing…
It’s the diversity. In the particular advertisement above there was very little effort in trying to actually reach diversity. Every girl has the same body type, height, and even hair style. There is also zero racial diversity present. Everyone in the photo fits the typical European beauty standards. This may seem like an isolated incident and it would never happen again but it does
and over again.
Other campaigns don’t even attempt to try and be diverse in models. It is not just limited to women but men as well. Men in particular are only shown with defined muscles, tall, and typically white. In most advertisements with men shown this way they are also accompanied by women who also fit the European standard of beauty to a T.
Since there seems to be some confusion on what diversity means especially in these campaigns lets do a little review. Diversity means including ALL shapes and sizes, not just what fits European beauty standards. It means having multiple people with different shades of skin colors and not just one person who is slightly different. With having diversity of people it doesn’t mean when it comes time to edit that you “white wash” the image. It means keeping their skin tone the exact tone it is naturally, and the same goes with having African Americans or other ethnicity's with their natural hair. The hiring of all races and giving them media attention is extremely important, so everyone can look and identify with someone in the media. Diversity in body image doesn’t just stop with race. It includes people who have physical disabilities along with mental disabilities in advertisements is equally as important as having variety in skin tones. It means branching out of the box that keeps this very specific view of the European beauty standard and finding people that everyone can relate to. It eventually means that New York’s City's Billboards will showcase the full spectrum of diversity that our society contains.
We understand that you want to sell your product and you believe only having one type of model will do that. What you don’t understand is that making your advertisements diverse will attract a bigger pool of consumers. Having someone that looks like them with your product will make them want to buy that product. Being able to identify with people on a screen or a billboard is also likely to increase your customers self-esteem. You probably don’t think that your customers self-esteem is any of your concern but you couldn’t be more wrong. Your customers will only buy things they feel confident with. Not just buying them but actually using them in public where they are your walking advertisements.
Clothing companies should be most concerned about their customers self-esteem, because it directly effects whether or not they will buy and wear your clothes. Using such a specific style of model is cutting a majority of your consumer pool out of your advertisements, because very few people actually look like the Victoria Secret models. There are some companies who use “curvier” girls who aren’t plus-sized in their plus sized advertisements. Using models that are not true to the size you are advertising is also extremely harmful to your customers self-esteem. It makes them reevaluate what they are suppose to look like in your product. When they then try on your product and it doesn’t look the same it highly effects their decision to buy it along with impacting their self-esteem. All of these facts play into your customers NOT buying your clothing.
If them not buying your product isn’t enough of a factor to having a fully diverse cast of actors and models in your advertisements, think about what it is doing to anyone who views your advertisements. Every single child, teenage, and adult is constantly being surrounded by and told that this very select type of body is what is consider acceptable and desirable in our society. This excludes people with different skin tones, skin conditions, disabilities, body types, or other physical conditions. It creates this stigma that you are not enough unless you look exactly like that. Creating huge amounts of insecurities in individuals that could have been prevented by seeing someone they can relate to in an advertisement.
Despite the miscommunication of what diversity in body image actually means one company has been able to correctly capture what diversity in body image is.
They have been able to capture all sorts of body sizes, skin tones, and hair styles. They have a full spectrum of people and constantly are pushing this on all forms of their marketing. On their social media, billboards, website, and even host pop-up events promoting this. One of their main goals has been to push this and it has made their once small brand as big as Victoria Secret. Aerie first started working towards a more diverse way of advertising in 2014 when they stopped retouching any of their marketing tools and started using “real women”. Aerie is still growing and reported a 38% increase in same store sales in the first quarter of 2018; whereas, Victoria Secret only reported a 1% increase. One of the things they have also been pushing along with their diversity of models but is also strong women mentally and physically. In 2018 they also introduced models with disabilities and started using them as the models for their website. This is one of the first bigger companies who have used multiple models that have disabilities.
Are you starting to understand? How important it is to actually understand what diversity in body image in your advertisements are. How important it is to include this diversity and that you still can make the same, if not more, amount of money. These small conscious changes to your advertisements will not only impact your company for the better but will also impact your consumers in a positive way. Embracing and advertising the diversity of everyone will only have positive effects and also broaden your consumer pools. There is ways to do this and now it is your choice whether or not you will be the last one to change for the better.
A Fed-up Consumer