Calvin Klein’s “In My Calvins…” Campaign Gets a Positive Reaction

Calvins Klein’s latest campaign is has the slogan “In my Calvin’s I _____” where wearers are encouraged to fill in the blank with a verb describing how their Calvin’s make them feel.

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One customer, took the campaign a step further when she chose to pose in her Calvin’s for a photoshoot in order to send a message to other women. Blogger and mother Brenda Derouen is that woman, though she was not always comfortable in her own skin. According to an interview with Cosmopolitan, Derouen had trouble accepting the stretch marks left on her body after giving birth….

“I struggled for years to accept the stretch marks on my body,” she says. “For the past year, I’ve been on a journey to love myself and inspire other women along the way. The shoot had nothing to do with Kendall, and everything to do with me. I chose to pose in Calvin Klein underwear to send a message to women about self-acceptance and self-love. I wanted to celebrate the end of my body insecurities.”

The powerful photographs of Derouen went viral quickly, and even inspired other women to admit their own insecurities… one woman wrote in a comment on Derouen’s blog, “I’ve been insecure about my tiger marks and wrinkly tummy for the longest. This is sooooo encouraging.”

Here are some of the images from her photoshoot with photographer Deun Ivory:

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While media and advertisements can easily have the finger pointed at them for preying on consumers insecurities… it seems like Calvin Klein’s latest may have gotten something right. The powerful images recreated by Derouen show that when we are shown positive images in media and advertisements, the effect can be contagious.

“This is for the millions of women out there who recognize that their bodies are a piece of art, that it will continuously change and that it will naturally show signs of maturity, growth, age, and, for those women who are super lucky, motherhood,”  – from a post on Derouen’s Blog



“Real Beauty” is a Little Confusing

Almost anyone you ask would be familiar with the Campaign for Real Beauty launched by Dove. The advertisements featured women of different shapes, sizes,  ages, and ethnicities.


According to Dove’s website, “The campaign started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable.”

Sounds great right? Not so quick….

After reading an article on Jezebel by Katie Baker, I became a little confused. Baker talks about how companies bemuse consumers into buying beauty products. She writes that “”Real Beauty” features and advertisements cleverly sell you products under the guise of body-positivity while actually reinforcing the idea that a woman’s worth is based on the way she looks to others.

Dove also falls under the parent company of Unilever, which according to the Huffpost Women writer Nina Bahadur, is also the parent company of Slimfast, Axe and Fair & Lovely skin-whitening cream. Companies that very clearly sell products to people who wish to alter their appearance more so than embrace it.

In this same article, Jennifer Pozner an executive director of Women In Media & News is quoted….

“If the stated goal of the Dove Real Beauty Campaign is for girls and women to understand that their power and their beauty does not come from a tube or an airbrush or a cream, but rather from their own personalities and power, then the company would not sell certain products that they sell, and their parent company would not run some of the most misogynistic ad campaigns in the past ten years.”

It is also suggested in the article that the campaign may have been a marketing ploy, which quite effectively boosted the brands sales. Bringing me back to the point made in Jezebel… a company can sell body-positivity while reinforcing that a woman should in fact buy the products in order to feel beautiful.

While there is no doubt I along with many others appreciate the representation of various body shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities in advertising… these conversations leave me slightly puzzled. While the campaigns are certainly more inclusive, they still place value on the physical appearance of a woman.

According to Pozner,

“Until we get to a point in the culture where the dominant messages about girls and women are not focused on their physical bodies, then we do need to actually reaffirm a broader and more innate, internal definition of what beauty is.”

Edit: This post was originally published unintentionally as a Page for a previous weeks post.

The Problem with Vanity Sizing

Most people are familiar, at least somewhat, with the effect that media has on our own body image and self-esteem. However, what you may not be familiar with is the effect that media also has on producers and brands.

Vanity sizing is defined by Newsweek as the phenomenon of ready-to-wear clothing of the same nominal size becoming bigger in physical size over time. This phenomenon occurs mainly in the United States and United Kingdom, where clothing sizing is generally not standardized.

In a study that measured over 1,000 pairs of women’s pants, researchers found that pants from more expensive brands tended to be smaller than those from cheaper brands with the same nominal size.

And while you may have heard that “size is just a number”, it can have a negative psychological impact on consumers. According to an interview by Cosmopolitan, “Size is the latest way to evaluate self-worth,” says Susan Head, PhD, a body-image specialist and clinical psychologist.

The obsession with thinness undoubtedly stems from unrealistic and unobtainable images projected by media and advertising — which are constantly bombarding consumers.

“When thinness is discussed so regularly and with such
emphasis, it leads us to attribute enormous importance to
it,” body-image specialist Adrienne Ressler, national
training director for the Renfrew Center, an eating-disorder
treatment center also told Cosmopolitan, “Size seeps into your subconscious and you can’t help but ruminate about it on a consistent basis.”

Vanity sizing exaggerates the issue by allowing consumers to feel triumphant when they are able fit into “smaller” sizes, and laterally feel ashamed or disappointed  when that same size does not fit in another brand.

“The gown in my usual size was
minuscule! I had to go up two sizes. In stead of feeling excited that I’d found my dress, I was depressed.” -Janet to Cosmo

What is important to remember is the fact that — vanity sizing, like many other marketing tactics, is often used to prey on consumers insecurities and by preying on those insecurities, turn a profit.

“The only way not to get hung up on the size you wear is to understand how the fashion industry works and to realize that sizes on a label are essentially useless. Women need to see that when a certain size of clothing doesn’t fit them it’s not their fault, it’s just the cut of the clothing that isn’t right for their bodies.” -Rae to WebMd


Weibo’s Dangerous “Challenges”

If you are not from or around China, you may have never heard of the popular microblogging site, Weibo, similar to twitter or Facebook. Just as any social media site, Weibo is not immune to the evils of trends in body shaming. Like trends such as the thigh gap, Weibo users have created new dangerous standards which they are posting on the site.

The first recent trend that surfaced had women, standing with an 8×10 sheet of paper held up to their waist known as the #A4 waist challenge. On the site you can find many women posing for the camera with the sheet of paper held up to their waist with a grin on their face. Not only does this challenge have no correlation to the health of an individual, it also encourages dangerous eating and life style habits.

Image: Weibo

Image: Weibo

Image: Weibo

Image: Weibo

The next challenge that emerged on Weibo involves women holding an iPhone 6 above their legs to judge if their legs are thin enough.

Image: Weibo

Image: Weibo

Image: Weibo

Image: Weibo

According to an interview with Teen Vogue, Benjamin Bedford, MD,  says that the size of you knees has no correlation to your overall health.

“The knees are bone and cartilage, and those are fixed size, so there’s not much to do to change the knee’s size,” he said. “Just above the knee cap is the quadriceps muscle, so to get your knees small enough, you’d actually need reduced muscle mass. When you diet excessively, you’d be losing a lot of muscle mass, and not changing the size of the bone. The other muscle groups are used to flex, and if you used exercise to limit your weight, you could limit the tissue, but you’d still have the same size knee. So to shrink a knee, you’d literally need to fast, in an unhealthy way.”

These challenges are not just meaningless, they can be harmful, especially to young users of social media who are less able to distinguish when ideals are unrealistic and unobtainable. Weibo user’s new craze over conforming to an unhealthy standard contributes to the destructiveness of #Thinspiration, pro-anorexia, and pro-bulimia communities. The most important thing we can do is demand the regulation of these types of posts from social media and more importantly educate ourselves and children that these messages are not only unrealistic but dangerous.



The Problem With Dove’s “Choose Beautiful” Campaign

Dove is well-known for its campaigns promoting positive body and self-image in women however, a recent attempt by the brand has sparked some controversy… and even resulted in the resignation of one BuzzFeed editor.

The controversial campaign is called “Choose Beautiful” and women featured in the campaign are given the choice to walk through one of two doors… one labeled “beautiful” and the other labeled “average”. Most women choose to walk through the “average” door, then later appear in the advertisement expressing their changed perspective and regrets about not choosing the “beautiful” door.


So what exactly is so polarizing about this campaign that it was named 3rd in the list of the 5 Most Controversial Ads in Recent History on and resulted in the resignation of an editor?

According to… “The video’s two-doors dilemma sprang from a 2004 Dove study called “The Truth About Beauty,” updated in 2011, that found that “only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful”; most say they’re “average.”

The article goes on to mention that the research that Dove conducts is not academic research, but rather marketing research and therefore makes the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed social experiment questionable.

Arabelle Sicardi, the BuzzFeed editor who resigned after writing a post criticizing the campaign argued that Dove’s tactic was to sell products by preying on insecurities which it’s advertisements and campaigns help perpetuate.

Sicardi writes in her post…

“You don’t have to be beautiful (or at the very least, you shouldn’t have to be), and not being beautiful doesn’t mean you’re average. Feeling beautiful is an obligation and a pressure — and sometimes a pleasure, but not always. Feeling beautiful is so much work: work that beauty companies cash in on and exploit.”

And she may have a point… If women weren’t told to think that they had to feel or be beautiful, why would we need the products that Dove or any cosmetic company sells for that matter? While the campaign seems like another step in the right direction, it comes as a double edged sword.

#AerieMan Embraces The Dadbod

The brand Aerie has been setting standards in the fashion industry for a little while now by creating campaigns and advertisements for their women’s line sans Photoshop. The brand’s demographic is mainly high school and college age females, who according to numerous studies are the most influenced by images they see in advertisements and media. This, obviously is a great movement towards an overall healthier and more realistic representation of body image in media.

Women however, are not the only gender facing body image issues as I have discussed in previous posts…men too feel pressure to conform to societal standards. Aerie has that covered though, the brand recently launched a #AerieMAN campaign with a similar goal in mind– to feature male bodies as they truly are, unretouched and in various shapes and sizes — dadbod and all.

Check out this video introducing their new #AerieMan line

Here are some of the models featured in the campaign…


Photo: Courtesy

Photo: Courtesy

Photo: Courtesy

Photo: Courtesy   

Kelvin, the model featured in the bright teal boxers and fedora told Yahoo! Style he hopes to inspire others to be more confident in themselves by sharing himself unretouched… “Personally, style has made me more confident in life. If you don’t have the confidence in what you wear, it’s going to show.”

Kelvin makes a great point… inspiring confidence in people by representing them in media instead of perpetuating an unobtainable ideal is exactly what consumers need. So kudos to Aerie for making strides towards a more industry positive for not only women but also men… who are often overlooked when it comes to body image issues.

Obama & Misty Copeland Discuss Body Image

Recently President Obama and ballerina Misty Copeland spoke in a video conversation with TIME‘s Maya Rhodan, about issues they face including race and body image.

As a man, Obama admits he wasn’t always aware of the issues women deal with in regards to body image. However, he says that raising his daughters has brought the issue to light. “When you’re a dad of two daughters, you notice more,” he says. “And that pressure I think is historically always been harder on African American women than just about any other women.”

Copeland agreed with Obama, saying she didn’t want to have to use makeup for performances to make her skin look lighter or her nose thinner and that she hopes to be an example for young girls to see it’s okay to have an athletic strong body.

Obama does seem to think there are strides being made towards a more diverse definition of beauty though…

“I do think that culture’s changing for the younger generation a little bit more. You see Beyoncé or you see some of these pop stars, and what both white, Latino, black children are seeing as representative of beauty is much broader than it was when I was a kid. You just didn’t see that much representation. And that’s healthy and that’s encouraging. But it’s still a challenge.”

Beyoncé, is very influential when it comes to a broader representation of beauty. In her song Formation, which she performed during the half time show at this she celebrates aspects of African American ethnicity and culture.

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Embracing different types of beauty, especially in media, is the beginning of a healthier perception of beauty for everyone — and hopefully as Obama said, changing the culture for the younger generation.