Mollie Hawkins
May 14, 2015 2:09 pm

Lately, the body positive movement has converged with the lingerie industry to take back the notion that women have to look a certain way in their bras and undies. First Lane Bryant released their diverse #ImNoAngel campaign as a response to Victoria’s Secret’s more traditional “perfect body” ads. And more recently, blogger Courtney Mina spent a week posting lingerie selfies to empower women of all body types to embrace their sexuality.

And now we have Panache—a lingerie and swimsuit company catering to D+ sizes—with their brand new “Modeled by Role Models” campaign. The idea behind the campaign is pretty simple: the term “model” should define the type of woman we really aspire to be—not simply because of how she looks, but because of how she acts in the world. So Panache chose 6 female “role models” from around the world to represent their company. Instead of their sizes, the models were selected based on their achievements, strengths, contributions to society, and personal approach to body image.

This kind of campaign is huge deal: it reflects the fact that brands are listening to what women want, rather than telling us what we should want. And what we want are women we admire owning their bodies. The lingerie industry has a long history of selling to women through the male gaze. By making women believe men want to see a certain type of woman in lingerie, their campaigns preyed on our insecurities and fostered the idea that our own bodies only mattered in the eyes of others. Now brands like Panache have a new strategy that’s totally brilliant: make women—the people buying the lingerie—feel good, accepted, empowered and celebrated.

So who is Panache celebrating? Oh, just six incredibly accomplished women who inspire us for the work they’ve done, and for the confidence they possess in themselves. And it all comes through in the images from the campaign, which are body-positive, not at all objectifying and downright gorgeous.

Here’s a look at the role models making this campaign so special:

Amy Hughes, a sports therapist from the UK, spends a lot of her time working with the Isabelle Lottie Foundation, a charity that raises awareness for childhood brain cancer. As if that wasn’t enough, Hughes is also a world record holder: she’s the only woman to have run 17 consecutive marathons in Texas, and she also ran 53 marathons in 53 days around the UK.

Hannah Cockroft MBE first came onto the scene as “one to watch” in the UK’s Paralympic basketball and discus teams, but found her true passion for wheelchair racing shortly after. She’s gone on to break world records for the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m events. In 2010, she broke 7 world records in 8 days—all while finishing her A-Level exams and being crowned Prom Queen. In 2013 she was awarded an MBE for her service to the athletics. Her advice for women wishing to follow their dreams? Simply: “Grab every opportunity that they’re given. Don’t be scared—go out, grab it any enjoy it!”

Marquita Pring started modeling at the age of 15, and has since become a world-renowned for promoting positive body image and diversity in the fashion industry. She’s been featured on the cover of Italian Vogue and walked Jean Paul Gaultier’s catwalk in Paris. She also co-founded ALDA, a body-positive group that’s challenging beauty standards in fashion.

Mica Paris was discovered as a child singing in her grandmother’s church. She grew up to be a powerhouse: at 17 she’d become a professional backup singer, and then became a solo artist, actress, and all-around professional badass. She’s a major supporter of the Amy Winehouse Foundation, and also UK’s “No Means No” campaign, fighting for women’s rights.

Rachel Elliott is a major role model in her job as a trauma nurse. During the Ebola crisis she traveled to Sierra Leone to help those in need. She says it was not an option, that she was just doing her job: “I had skills I could do something with. Why did all of us come into medicine?”

Martyna Kaczmarek first realized that her home country, Poland, was in dire need of more blood donors after she donated blood for the first time at the age of 18. She took a stand and decided to organize blood drives in her own school, and eventually her efforts became the “Day For Life” campaign, promoting blood, organ, and bone marrow donations—which is now a registered charity in Poland. She says that “creativity, individuality, and the ability to overcome obstacles” is what makes a great role model.

It’s amazing to see a brand celebrating such a diverse and dynamic group of women. And it’s even more amazing to see these women spreading the body-love message just by being their own beautiful selves.

[Images via, via]

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