Shapewear line to help you be more like the “lucky” slim girls
I was recently asked to comment on a ‘story’ about underwear brand Triumph announcing new body shape descriptions, replacing fruit (apple, pear) with artists (Botticelli, Rembrandt, Ruben, Da Vinci, Raphael and Matisse). I gave a quick comment that it was still labelling and I didn’t think labelling of any kind was helpful . Emphasising health was more important than putting a label on body size, shape or weight.
At that stage I hadn’t seen the TV footage depicting women in underwear identifying themselves as a particular artistic shape, parading through Sydney’s Pitt Street to promote the brand.
As I looked into it more, I came to conclude that what we were seeing was an advertising puff piece masquerading as news – another excuse to show women (with generally ‘acceptable’ bodies in the first place) walking around the streets in underwear under the guise of body image concerns. ABC’s Media Watch featured Triumph’s media stunt here and reported it would have been worth over a million dollars in free advertising.
Triumph’s body image ‘shape report’ report seemed to be just the peg on which to launch some new underwear. As the media release says : “The Shape Report supports the launch of Triumph’s Shape Sensation range.” Oh my goodness – really?
An analysis of the findings of the report (conducted in conjunction with Marie Claire) with commentary from authorities in the field – sans the underwear models – would have been more convincing. But would the TV networks have been so keen to cover it without the public display of women in lingerie?
In promotions about the different body types, Triumph describes those with the body type considered ideal as “lucky”: “Do you have a smaller waist but a fuller bust and bottom? Lucky girl. You’re blessed with a typical Rembrandt body. ” This shows that despite mouthing platitudes about body image diversity, the company still gives primary value to a particular body type – which defeats the whole (supposed) purpose. The shapewear is designed to conform/bind bodies to an ideal – to make you more like the lucky girls.
See these range of bodies lined up under the heading ‘Which body type are you?’
When you click on the image for the ‘style advice’ you will see the women are magically transformed into something quite different – here’s what becomes of ‘Matisse’ and ‘Reubens’ for example. Yep that’s the transforming power of the Triumph Bonded Long Short.
As my colleague Lydia Turner from BodyMatters Australasia says: “The reality is women’s bodies are not limited to these shapes – trying to squeeze every woman’s bodies into them only perpetuates the idea that women’s bodies are objects to be categorized”.
If they really did want to celebrate all body types, and create an environment where women felt better about their bodies, they could start with including them in their catalogues.
The approach of Triumph – and other companies spouting body image concerns – isn’t to advocate changing the toxic culture which makes women feel bad about themselves but add to it with more products we can buy to make us look ‘better’.
‘Poisonous lies about what we have to do to be considered attractive’
Triumph is also running a competition looking for six ‘real’ women to be ‘ambassadors’ for their body type to promote the company’s new range of body shaping lingerie. We can apparently only feel better about ourselves if we look attractive and acceptable and that means ‘real’ women need to “find their shape and change using Best Body Shapewear”. As Collective Shout supporter Nicole Jameson of Adelaide points out in her March 30 letter to Triumph, it ends up being just another beauty contest – entrants’ success is dependent upon online votes with finalists then flown to Sydney for a ‘final judging session’.
Today I was asked by a friend via Facebook if I would vote for her entry to become “an ambassador for her body shape”. Intrigued, I clicked the link and arrived at the website for your “Shape Ambassador Body Shape Competition”.
At first, I was encouraged to see a lingerie company seeking ‘real women’ to represent their product. But the more I explored your website, the more confused I became. You are seeking for women to represent “real female body shapes”, yet these women will become the public face of a product which hides and changes their bodies.
We live in a toxic culture, which promotes unnatural and unattainable standards of beauty to the detriment of the mental and physical health of millions of Australian and NZ women. Your own survey has identified that 70% of respondents are unhappy with their body, and that 82% would prefer to have a different body shape. This not a marketing opportunity – this is a tragedy. Women do not need to be sold a product which exploits our insecurities in order to help us attain false ideals – we need to be told that we are acceptable and beautiful as we are. Your competition, along with your ‘shapewear’, denies that there is beauty to be found in our ‘real’ bodies and feeds poisonous lies about what we need to do in order to be considered acceptable and attractive. It is disgracefully disingenuous of you to dress up such a hideous assault to our self-esteem in the guise of ‘body confidence’.
So no, I am not going to vote for my friend’s entry. Rather, I am going to discourage her, and everyone else I know, from entering your competition. Then I’m going to tell them that they are beautiful as they are, and don’t need to waste their money on appearance-altering underwear to cover up their ‘real’ bodies. Australian women don’t need to “find our shape and change”, Triumph. Your company, on the other hand, could apparently do with a good long look in the mirror.