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These Brands Are Going The Extra Mile To Enforce Body Positivity

Culture

In recent years, we've seen the welcome introduction of body positivity into mainstream beauty and fashion brands. It makes a stark contrast to the stick-thin supermodel-promoted advertising of the 90s, promising consumers that if they bought this particular item of clothing, they too would instantly become beautiful and skinny.


Of course, this type of promotion still occurs, but there are many brands that are becoming more inclusive and body positive in both their designs and marketing.

The issue we have now, however, is distinguishing between brands that genuinely care about their customers' wellbeing, and those which are merely using body positivity to make a profit. Unfortunately, there are some who are jumping on the bandwagon and using what should be an empowering movement to create successful advertising campaigns and sell more products.

That's why we've compiled this list of brands that go the extra mile to enforce body positivity; read on to find out more.

Knix

Photo credit: Knix

Knix is an inspiring underwear brand that specializes in leakproof period underwear, comfortable bras.

Since their launch in 2013, Knix have put their emphasis on women being comfortable and confident, whatever their shape and size. As a brand, they don't believe in sticking to conventional women's underwear concepts — usually hyper-sexualised, lacey and uncomfortable. Instead, they've used their innovative design ideas and period panty technology to create revolutionary yet functional underwear products.

Not only are their period undies leakproof, moisture-wicking and anti-odour, but their bras are comfortable, supportive and wireless. Sounds like a win, doesn't it?

Knix really believe in promoting body positivity: they want all women to be comfortable in their own skin and free to be themselves. Choosing underwear products that are specifically designed to make you feel confident and comfortable seems like a pretty good place to start.

ASOS

Photo credit: @asos

This well-known British online retailer has been paving the way in body positivity for a while now. ASOS have made a deliberate effort to be inclusive and diverse — choosing to work with more than 200 models to represent their sprawling audience across the world.

They haven't stopped at just using models with different body types either; ASOS clothes come in more than 30 sizes, which they've committed to providing at the same price. By being size-inclusive, ASOS have shown a progressive attitude towards body positivity that many online clothing stores unfortunately lack.

ASOS's advertising campaigns and imagery also reflect this attitude: they refuse to retouch, remove stretch marks or digitally alter images of their models. As such a huge online retailer — and one whose core demographic are young women — it's a relief to see that they are normalising practices like showing their models with stretch marks and representing the majority of women's experiences.

Furthermore, they have also partnered with GLAAD, one of the biggest voices in LGBTQ activism, to create a gender-neutral accepting collection.

Sport England: This Girl Can

Photo credit: @thisgirlcanuk

Sport England is a organization dedicated to mobilizing the British nation into taking part in sports and activities — regardless of their age, gender, background or ability. The organization created the “This Girl Can" campaign, which has now turned into an extremely successful, globally recognized movement.

This Girl Can is a female fitness movement that is both body positive and inclusive — celebrating and supporting girls and women of all backgrounds being active. Since the birth of This Girl Can in 2015, they have been inviting women everywhere to join in and get moving, without worrying about how they look.

It's refreshing to see a brand promoting body positivity in terms of physical fitness and the effect that this has on mental wellbeing. Sports and fitness brands can be guilty of excluding women if they don't fit a certain body ideal, making women less likely to want to exercise and impacting both their mental and physical health.

Far from relying on the conventional photos of super-fit sports stars, This Girl Can shines the spotlight on “real" women and put the power in their hands instead. The brand invites their audience to join them on their journey to inclusivity and positivity in exercise by sharing photos of themselves using the hashtag #ThisGirlCan.

Check out their Instagram — it's incredibly inspiring and moving to see the women featured, and how the brand celebrates self-love in such a positive way.

ModCloth

Photo credit: ModCloth

ModCloth is a San Francisco-based online fashion retailer that specialises in quirky, vintage-inspired clothing. Not only do they offer a range of sizes, but they feature models with a wide range of body types and sizes in their campaigns to accurately reflect their audience.

As with the other brands we've mentioned on this list, ModCloth signed an anti-photoshop pledge in 2014, vowing to never change the size, color, proportion or physical features of their models.

They've also made an effort to become much more size-inclusive — in both their product offerings and their language. In 2015, they experimented with removing the “plus size" section from their homepage to create a more inclusive, integrated brand community. Since then, they have reintroduced a plus size section to improve their customers' shopping experience, but they continue to use positive language and have removed plus-oriented language from the site in order to be more inclusive.

All of the above brands have made a conscious effort to promote body positivity through their clothing offerings, messaging and core brand values. As a result, they are championed by their customer communities — and seem to be having a real impact across the retail industry. It just goes to show that the body positive movement isn't just a marketing fad — it's here to stay.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.