As in summer seasons past, the media will soon send us countless Sports Illustrated-esque images of bikini-clad women—Photoshopped pictures of physical perfection—and encourage us to become the impossible with summer-body workouts and slim-down diets.
This year ModCloth is encouraging something different.
The online retailer’s 2016 swimwear campaign promotes body size diversity and acceptance. It features ModCloth models, employees, and customers of various body types and sizes, suited in bikinis and one-pieces alike. In a playful, self-assured photo shoot the women bare bellies round and flat, hips wide and narrow, and thighs thick and thin. The company insists, “Every body is a swimsuit body,” and then expands on the classic body acceptance message: “Isn’t there more to it than that?”
While the company’s business goal is to sell swimwear, of course, it also advocates a larger social goal: Looking beyond a body to see a person. Central to the advertising campaign are fun facts about the swimsuit models themselves, including their interests (the flying trapeze, poodle statues, and Disneyland, for example) and talents (comedy, finance, and seamstressing, among others). By highlighting the women’s personalities instead of their measurements, ModCloth reminds us that people are more than their size.
Let’s follow ModCloth’s example this beach season. Let’s encourage media to avoid commoditizing “perfect” figures and urge companies to humanize models of diverse shapes and sizes. Let’s find the confidence to suit up our own bodies, beautiful and honest just as they are, and tune out the noise that demands we slim down and cover up.
Let’s realize we’ve been beach-body ready all along.