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Blogger Mayah shares her thoughts on some of the most influential campaigns.

Text: Mayah Thomas

The plus size world is always expanding, and with that comes debates, discussions and progress. There have been a series of campaigns that shook up the fashion industry in recent years, serving a common purpose, to encourage women to love their curves. We are seeing more plus size fashion brands, magazines and modelling agencies becoming more vocal about body positivity, and the struggles that plus size women face. This helps women everywhere to embrace their curves, and helps the rest of us to find our inner confidence to wear our lumps, bumps and extra curves with pride.

Here are some of the most influential campaigns that have taken the body positivity movement to new heights:


Lane Bryant took the media by storm with this campaign. Until recently, plus size women have been trying to conform to a narrow set of beauty standards. With 67% of women in the US being a size 14 to 32, the brand thought it was time that these women were given a voice. They made slogan t-shirts with hashtag #PlusIsEqual, and when the tees hit stores and online outlets, the selfies from customers started pouring in. The campaign also included billboards, commercials and magazine ads with models stating why #plusisequal. For the grand finale, there was an amazing runway show during New York Fashion Week, showcasing full figured models in all of their glory. The key message is that plus size women are here and we should be treated just like all other women. We are sexy, stylish and have a lot to say.


For this campaign, Denise Bidot, the amazing plus size model and body positivity advocate, partnered with popular swimwear brand, Swimsuitsforall to create an ad campaign that had everyone talking. They shot a unique video which saw Denise sporting a series of beautiful swimsuits and close ups of what some would consider imperfections. Talking about the campaign, Denise said: ‘I love everything about my body. I’ve learned to just love every bit of it. The cellulite, the stretch marks, everything that I, at one point when I was younger, thought was an imperfection; I now realise it’s everything that makes me, me.

When I watch this and see one of the most stunning women out there talking about her struggles, I wonder, how has someone like her ever had problems with body confidence? This reminds me that we all have our hang ups, we all have society telling us what we should look like and instructing us on how to become perfect. I love that she is showing all of her curves. Seeing a close up of her cellulite, which is something that would usually be a subject of ridicule, is quite brave. Usually, models in print or television ads are airbrushed and often become unrecognisable. Denise Bidot is showing us what it means to be full figured, confident and beautiful. As she says, ‘Be you and just rock this world man!’


Our smart phones and hectic schedules keep most of us too distracted to pay attention to anything. It takes something relatively shocking to capture someone’s undivided attention. Which lead navabi to ask, what would the average person say if a nearly naked plus size woman was walking down the street? In this video we see a nearly naked woman (her private parts blurred out of course) walking down a busy street. She is wearing nothing but a pair of black heels and nude underwear. We see onlookers stare in awe as she passes. When model Mariesther Venegas spoke to Madeline Jones, editor and chief of Plus Model Mag, about her experience shooting the campaign she explained, ‘It was amazing actually, very liberating and carefree. People’s reactions were positive and kept me going throughout the day. They were cheering, taking pictures of me (and with me) and admiring my body.’ With this campaign, navabi show us that all women can and should feel confident with or without their clothes.


The stunning plus size model, Ashley Graham celebrated body positivity in a big way when she launched her very own lingerie line with Addition Elle. Armed with considerable social influence, the Latina beauty created the hashtag #IAmSizeSexy to empower curvy women and get everyone excited about the launch. Ashley believes that confidence and sexiness are a state of mind. She wants fuller figured women to feel sexy in her gorgeous lingerie. Her latest collection features beautiful lace accents and intricate details to give curvy women chic and sophisticated lingerie options. This is a powerful example of plus size women being encouraged to embrace their curves instead of hiding them.


For years, plus size women have hidden their curves in one-piece bathing suits, until recently. One of the most popular names in the plus size blogosphere, Gabi Gregg AKA gabifresh is known for her amazing street style, activism in the name of body positivity and her range of bikinis. Gabi’s collections are bright, bold and fun. She dubbed the plus size bikini the ‘fatkini,’ and the hashtag was created almost instantly to help curvy women share their awesome bikini pics. Adding the word ‘fat’ to ‘bikini’ is another way for us to embrace being fat. It helps us to start seeing it as less of a crime, and more as a simple descriptor for a body type. I’m excited to see more of Gabi’s gorgeous designs.


This campaign is a special one to me. Every year right after the holiday season we are met with a plethora of diet programmes, celebrity exercise DVDs and books. Without fail, we are bombarded by instructions on how to obtain the perfect beach body. This year, UK brand Protein World ran a campaign called ‘Beach Body Ready.’ The print ad showcased a very thin woman in a skimpy bikini with the slogan ‘Are you beach body ready?’ navabi, was one of many other brands that disliked the ad and went so far as to recreate it with a little twist. navabi felt that the only thing you need to do to get beach body ready is put on a swimsuit that accentuates your curves. In support of navabi’s campaign, women in the UK took to the streets wearing their plus size swimwear and took photos right in front of the Protein World ads. Women who once fell silent were shouting from the rooftops that they look amazing in swimwear regardless of their age, shape or size.


Lane Bryant’s #I’m No Angel campaign was instrumental for two reasons. It showcased the brand’s Cacique lingerie collection on some of the most famous plus size models, and took on the lingerie juggernaut, Victoria’s Secret. For years, the Victoria’s Secret angels have been featured on catwalks around the world. Their svelte figures have catapulted many of them to super stardom. Lane Bryant wanted to take a similar approach by having their own runway show featuring plus models with curves for days. Similar to the #PlusIsEqual campaign, slogan t-shirts were readily available as we saw women taking selfies to showcase their inner beauty. This campaign went viral and is still being celebrated today.


TIn August 2015 model agency 12+ launched their ‘Models with Curves’ collective with support from navabi. To kick start the campaign, which inspires women to love their curves, a few of the models from the group stripped down to oversized jumpers and their underwear to pose in front of the camera. In a series of intimate interviews to promote the collective’s body positive message some of the models also spoke about their experiences in the fashion industry. Monique Bentley was one such model. She revealed the struggles she faced as a 15-year-old working in the industry with such unrealistic standards. She went on to say that she feels like she has found her place in the plus size arena. She and her fellow models want to encourage diversity to make the industry more inclusive. The campaign has a simple and clear message; love your body.


Swimsuitsforall is on a mission to create stylish swimwear for women of all shapes and sizes. Their #CurvesInBikinis campaign famously featured model Ashley Graham in a sultry video, as well as a stunning ad in the swimwear issue of Sports Illustrated. In the video, Graham is sauntering by a pool in a sexy bikini. Each man she passes can’t keep his eyes off her. Then she playfully tosses her bikini top into the pool. If that wasn’t enough, the print ad caused quite a stir. This was the first campaign to feature a plus size model in Sports Illustrated. Usually, the pages are inundated with athletic women scantily clad in revealing swimsuits. However, by embracing a curvier customer, the magazine is helping to expand the narrow definition on female beauty. It has also been a stepping-stone to encourage brands to showcase women of all shapes and sizes, and it’s nice to see that they are listening.


Cosmetics giant MAC ran a special competition that gave six lucky people a chance to become the faces of the MACnificent Me. One of the finalists was plus size model Luzmaria Vargas. In her video submission she spoke about her struggles as a plus size woman. She explains, ‘I think all of us bigger women can relate to the fact that being plus size has allowed many people to speak to us in ways that make things difficult.’ Often we are met with insults, ridicule and a lack of compassion from people. In the video, we see a shy, teary-eyed girl discussing her past hardships. But when she got her hair and makeup done, and started posing in front of the camera, she became a totally different girl. It’s great to see that MAC is willing to embrace the inner beauty of their winners and bring it to the forefront. Confidence is key and this video really highlights that.