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.
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.
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.
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.
In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.
One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.
Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.
When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.
There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.
With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.
Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today
Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.
I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.
Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.
There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.
You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.