Australian Swimwear Brand Shows Unretouched Models in Ad Campaign

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Above: Ad for Moana Bikini “Who Run the World?” Campaign

It is only in recent years that the Body Positive movement has gained mainstream attention. The movement, which counteracts the very narrow definition of beauty put forth by society, often criticizes usage of techniques like photoshop for setting unrealistic beauty standards. One standard often attacked by proponents of body positivity, especially around this time of year, is the notion of the “bikini body.” It is often criticized on the grounds that such a phrase implies that only one sort of body should wear a swimsuit. However, an Australian swimwear brand seems to be doing away with this idea.

Moana Bikini “Who Runs the World?” campaign features a set of tanned models on an idyllic beach, however, the notable thing about these ads is that they feature women of numerous body types and absolutely no photoshop. This was a decision made by Karina Irby, the brand’s founder, who stated that she wanted the ads to be “as close to reality as possible.” The Independent cites Irby as hoping “that the campaign will help women realize that not everything they see on social media is authentic and that they can wear a bikini no matter their shape or size.” The campaign has been positively received across social media, with many describing it as being a refreshing step in the right direction.

However, Moana Bikini is one of several other brands who have tried to make similar strides. Online retailer ASOS recently featured an as with model Natalia Lorenzo clad in a red dress, proudly showing her back rolls. Lingerie retailer aerie made the choice to stop retouching the models in their campaigns back in 2014, even going so far as to advertise the campaign on their shopping bags. One could say that body positivity has gotten a lot of attention from brands.

An Op-Ed from Racked takes a look at this sudden attention, even going so far as to question some of the motives behind these ad campaigns. Stating that companies like Dove, which has had a lot to say on the idea of body positivity, present this “broad cultural problem while refusing to name a bad actor” and leaves “the blame squarely on the shoulders of the women who had the temerity not to love themselves sufficiently.” In a sense, chalking up insecurities to our own misconception, rather than a wider societal problem.

Perhaps this is a possible danger of these ad campaigns, if they are not handled well. However, advertisements are largely responsible for many of the images we see, so it would make sense to view them as medium through which to change the message given out by popular media. If the media begins to represent a market of people they had previously ignored, then of course new profits will likely come in. But, on the other hand, there is also the potential to make that audience feel seen. The balance perhaps lies in advertisers acknowledging that the problem does not lie with the people they are marketing to.

In that sense, brands like Moana Bikini may be on the right track, as it appears to normalize the portrayal of these women. The ad is like most swimsuit commercials and shows the models tanning in the sun and running through the waves. While yes, there is a need for more attempts to discuss body positivity outside of the context of advertisements, it is clear that ads like these can be viewed as useful tools to aid these discussions in gathering more attention. After all, body positivity and better representation ideally must reach many people. As Kirby puts it, “The sooner we recognize what’s edited on social media and what’s natural we’re all going to be in such a better and happier space.”

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Proud Latina Feminist. My likes include strong coffee, watching the previews that come on before the movie, and things that come in pretty packages. I've been a bibliophile and fashion lover since well before I could read or tie my own shoes.

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