In the past couple years, a change has been brewing: Slowly but surely, fashion brands and magazines are starting to expand their definition of “beautiful” — and we’re in love with what we’ve seen. But even though a little diversity is starting to trickle into the mainstream, it’s fair to say we still have a long way to go when it comes to diverse representation. Lucky for us, & Other Stories’ latest campaign proves they’re here to help.
Earlier this week, the H&M sister brand released the images from its “For Women, By Women” lingerie campaign. Shot by Swedish photographer Hedvig Jenning, the photos feature three women in repose, looking relaxed and comfortable and totally sexy. Even more exciting, the three models are shown in their natural glory — body hair, tattoos, scars, and all.
If the images have been Photoshopped, it’s been kept to a minimum; and each woman looks incredibly real and human. In fact, according to Mic, none of the women are even professional models: “Helin Honung is a blogger and yoga enthusiast, Kelsey Lu McJunkins is a cellist and model and Ida Jagerfelt is a copywriter.”
The campaign is definitive proof that diverse representation is absolutely gorgeous — and incredibly necessary. Normally, popular media only celebrates a very narrow ideal of beauty: Cis-gendered women who are white, thin, and able-bodied. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating these women — they’re gorgeous and more than worthy — it’s equally important that we celebrate other women, too.
In particular, the campaign challenges traditional beauty norms by celebrating body hair and other traits normally considered “unsexy” on a woman. Even if you haven’t shaved your pits in a couple days (or months), that doesn’t make you any less of a sexual being. It’s totally your choice.
By only promoting one standard of beauty, we unintentionally ignore and put down those who don’t ascribe to it. In the case of lingerie, most brands aim to promote sex appeal: Both how the lingerie makes you look to others, and how it makes you feel about yourself. This is why it’s especially important to promote diversity in these campaigns. All women deserve to feel sexy and beautiful, both clothed and naked.
The & Other Stories campaign isn’t flawless, but they’re still one of the only brands that regularly features older models and women of color in its clothing campaigns. That they would promote such an awesomely diverse new campaign makes perfect sense.
And thankfully, they aren’t alone. This year, Lane Bryant launched its #ImNoAngel campaign, which celebrates plus-size women looking curvy and gorgeous in their underwear; and Aerie continued with its #AerieREAL campaign, which features women of various shapes and sizes posing Photoshop-free. It’s a trend we love to see — but something we also hope goes from a “trend” to the norm sooner rather than later.
When it comes to representing women in popular media, there should be room for all of us. Hopefully this campaign is a sign of more awesome diversity to come in 2016.
You can shop the & Other Stories lingerie line at their website right here.
(Images via Hedvig Jennings/& Other Stories)