Just in case you’re not in the know, Lane Bryant is a store in the US that caters to plus-sized women. Recently they ran a “Curvy Revolution Contest”. They gave women the opportunity to show off their best runway walk in a one minute video and win a chance to walk in the Lane Bryant Curvy Revolution fashion show in Vegas.
I’ll tell you right now that I have a some skin in this game, although not my skin. This probably wouldn’t have been on my radar at all except that CJ Legare is a dear friend of mine. She is the second place winner.
Let me also state for the record that I’ve been competing at something or other almost all of my life athlete from way back, I’m currently a competitive dancer and I know full well that sometimes you just get beaten. Sometimes your best isn’t good enough. Sometimes it really is an honor just to be nominated. So at first I thought – Second Place…HELL YEAH (10 points if you know the movie reference). But then I saw the winner and first runner up.
CJ is a pro and is taking this gracefully. I am not. And here’s why:
First of all, the rules include that there could be no pre-recorded music, no designer labels and that 75% of the score was based on “creativity, perceived personality, vitality and inspiration of entrant …The Grand Prize selection will be subject to verification, including without limitation, verification of eligibility, compliance with these Official Rules”
Here are the videos:
Ok, the winner and runner up both have pre-recorded music, the second not only has a designer label but the emcee POINTS IT OUT.
Thousands of other women turned in videos that could have been improved with pre-recorded music and designer clothes and accessories, but they didn’t include those things because they reasonably believed that they would be disqualified if they did.
Lane Bryant says that it’s not their fault, they outsourced the final decision to a modeling agency. Their stance is that their rules were copied from somewhere else and were therefore not important. (Apparently they are like the Pirate Code – really more like guidelines anyway. 10 points if you know the movie reference). My stance is that it’s your damn contest so if you don’t have the
balls ovaries to make a decision, then that IS a decision, and you are responsible.
But those are little things compared to what I think is the greater issue here. I adore CJ and of course I wanted to see her win. But I was also excited about the idea of having a truly plus-sized model, a model who could shop for clothes at Lane Bryant, walk down the runway. Except I didn’t really get one. And I was left asking – why would Lane Bryant break all of their rules for those two girls? It looks to me like neither of them could even shop at Lane Bryant. When I look at their website, it seems like part of a trend.
This is my friend CJ. She is a plus-size model and is a size 18/20. She can shop at Lane Bryant:
Here is a model who is on their website right now. I’m not linking because I’m too irritated to help them get any internet traffic:
How is that plus? How does that reflect their customer base?
One of the models below is a straight sized model from the New York and Company website and one is a “plus-sized” model from the Lane Bryant website. Can you tell which is which?
The one in the white shirt is the straight sized model, the one in the green is plus-sized.
There are a few conclusions that I can draw from this, none of them good, and I’m not sure what is actually true:
1. Lane Bryant would love me to spend my size 26/28 money there, but they are too ashamed of the way I look to show women who look anything like me in their clothes.
2. Lane Bryant thinks its fun to disappoint plus-sized women and make them feel bad about themselves by creating a public image of their clothing that cannot possibly be recreated on the plus-sized women to whom they sell those clothes.
3. Lane Bryant thinks that fat women hate our bodies so much that we can’t bear the sight of ourselves and therefore will only buy clothes if they are sold on a non-plus sized model so that we can commit the fallacy in #2 wherein we believe that these clothes will make us appear not plus-sized. Maybe seeing clothes that have been altered to be worn by women much too thin to fit into them is what the majority of plus-sized women want to see. Even if it’s true, here’s the huge problem with Lane Bryant’s approach.
If you think about it, almost every normal activity that we see on commercials, billboards, magazines etc. is being done by a thin women. We keep hearing that over 60% of the people in this country are “overweight” or “obese” (a statement of questionable accuracy for me to deal with another time). We are the majority. We control the vote in this country. But if the only thing I knew about this culture were movies, billboards, commercials and television shows, I would think that almost everyone was thin and the rest were successfully losing weight. And Lane Bryant, which could be a bastion of positivity showing plus-sized women looking confident and fabulous, instead opts to alter their clothes to fit women who will never pay them any money because they do their shopping at the vast array of stores that carry their sizes, not the the very few stores that carry my size, and that’s disappointing to me.