Amy Schumer’s Beach Body Isn’t Up for Discussion

Source: InStyle Magazine

Body shamers typically emerge from their turtlenecks around this time of year. They shed their down parkas and fur-lined boots just in time to judge those who feel comfortable in their own skin. Dana Duggan, swimsuit designer for South Shore Swimwear, started the season off with a splash when she decided to attack Amy Schumer’s recent swim-inspired InStyle magazine spread. Duggan took to the publication’s Instagram account to publicly voice her ugly opinion regarding May’s “beauty issue” cover model.

“Come on now! You could not find anyone better for this cover? Not everyone should be in a swimsuit,” Duggan wrote under the guise of her swimwear brand, no less.

Schumer appears on the cover wearing a white, one-piece Ralph Lauren swimsuit, and it’s not hard to see that she’s looking her best and loving her life from that image alone. Duggan’s comment, however, contradicts the issue’s overall message by fixating on the fact that Schumer—like most American women—isn’t your average model. Many followers responded by reminding Duggan that Schumer’s a real woman with a real body, and that bodies of all shapes and sizes are beautiful in their own way. Unlike traditional models, Schumer represents the everywoman, and that’s refreshing to see in today’s sea of size 2s. Her confidence demonstrates that women don’t have to be stick-thin to be gorgeous. She’s beautiful without feeling the need to conform to society’s preconceived notions of perfection.

While Duggan went on to defend her claims that Schumer looks “like a pig” by citing the first amendment, she also told The Huffington Post that she’s “tired of the media and publications trying to push the FAT agenda. It’s not healthy and it’s not pretty. What is wrong with featuring healthy and fit cover models?”

But it’s in that statement alone that she proves her opinions are motivated by nothing more than pure ignorance. She cannot assess Schumer’s health from this or any image, and she cannot claim this cover supports the so-called “fat” agenda when Schumer’s size 6-8 frame doesn’t even come close to the average American woman’s dress size. (Hint: It’s 16.) We’ve cultivated an acidic attitude toward female body image that’s permeated our society to its core.

Many believe women should maintain an unattainable visual aesthetic in order to satisfy the public’s gaze. Even though much has changed in recent years, such societal pressures still remain.

Luckily, thanks to magazine covers and other such public displays of defiance, we now see images that reinforce the idea that beauty isn’t only skin deep. We now praise women for their actions, not their appearance. And those who still face judgment over their looks no longer back down in the face of criticism. Instead, they stand up for themselves and for others in an effort to command the respect they deserve.

True beauty lies with our diversity, but we are still too stuck on conformity to recognize the best of what’s before us. Perhaps, if we’re constantly confronted with cover models that look more like Schumer, we will finally come to see and accept the beauty already in our midst.

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(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

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“Real” Talk: Why Aerie’s Latest Campaign Lacks Sincerity

aerieThough “retouched” images continue to plague newsstands and online publications across the globe, one can no longer peruse the pages of their favorite magazines and catalogs without the keen sense that something just isn’t right. We are all increasingly aware of the fact that Photoshop now allows photographers to smooth out imperfections, enabling them to remove wrinkles from both clothing and skin, yet its undeniable presence across all media outlets has left many desensitized to the damage such alterations may inflict upon our psyches and our youth.

However, as more women start to speak out about the pressure to look “picture perfect” despite these digitized standards of beauty, we are beginning to see a resurgence of “real” photographs that demonstrate the true beauty of the female form.

In what appears to be a blatant attempt to increase brand awareness and attract new customers, Aerie, the underwear, loungewear, and fitness wear extension of American Eagle Outfitters, decided to embrace the issue by creating a new campaign that touts the company’s refusal to Photoshop any of its models. Referred to as #aerieREAL on a recent direct mail piece, the campaign features (supposedly) average women that have not been distorted in any way. Yet, while I want to appreciate the retailer’s attempt to shun the sleazy façade that fuels its competitors—namely Victoria’s Secret—the brand neglected to break down its own personal barriers and erase the stigma these images perpetuate.

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You see, while the moles and slight stomach dimples unmistakably reveal that the models remain au naturel, Aerie forgets to acknowledge that these “real” models are just that—models. They are all incredibly fit, with each exhibiting the same basic body shape and toned physique. All are impeccably groomed, as not a single one has a hair out of place (if you know where…ahem, what I mean). And all are most definitely taped into their bra. (Have you ever tried on one of Aerie’s bras? Or any stylish bra for that matter? Trust me, if your breasts are even remotely rotund, one will fall out the moment you roll over on your side.) Not a single one of these “real” models looks like the kind of young, impressionable girl you may find rummaging through the sale panties at the back of the store.

Honestly, it’s difficult to embrace a campaign that claims “the real you is sexy” when these models look like cookie cutter copies of one another. Aerie clearly wants to maintain a certain image, and that image will inevitably alienate those this campaign was intended to reach. None of these girls have stretch marks. None have belly fat that droops just over the band of their undies. None of them have rippled thighs or bumpy armpits. No, these girls were chosen for their practically flawless appearance and their willingness to be “retouched” through makeup and body wax.

But, then again, what more can one expect from a brand that must stow its double-D selection within the confines of its dressing room? Aerie may be trying to break ground with this newfangled notion its conjured, but the retailer has many miles to travel before it reaches the point of inclusion and representation for all female body types.

Sorry, I Can’t Hear You Over the Sound of How Awesome I Am

Five reasons why America’s values are going to Hell in a hand basket (and why Abercrombie & Fitch is holding the handle!)

Once upon a time, the word ‘value’ instinctively referred to what a person believed in – their ideals and morals. Skip ahead to present day and you will find that the term ‘value’ is simply a word to inadequately describe the menu at your favorite artery-clogging fast-food joint. No one really cares about your beliefs; all that matters is that you didn’t break the bank while ingesting your future heart attack.

Where there once used to be quaint neighborhoods and corner stores, we have now erected massive malls, each a clone of the next. Various trends make us believe we need to shop certain places and buy specific things that will make us “cool” and socially acceptable.

Like any fast-food restaurant, stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) and it’s nearly identical counterparts serve up a predictable selection of clothing that help the Average Joe blend with the crowd. However, A&F has yet to embrace ‘value’ in any sense of the word. Instead, this chain of stores accompanies its shoddy products with “better than you” attitudes, all at a price you can’t afford.

Perhaps the old adage is no longer appropriate; perhaps the customer is not “always right” anymore. But if that is true, then A&F’s practices are beyond wrong.

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You can smell that something ‘Fierce’ – You know you’re approaching your mall’s Abercrombie & Fitch store when the sickening scent of perfume and cologne come wafting at you from 50-ft. down the corridor. Without any consideration for people who may have terrible allergies, A&F employees go around the store spraying the various product displays with exorbitant amounts of the signature scents they just can’t seem to sell. (Why would anyone need to buy the product when they can just peruse the store and come out smelling like the perfume for free?) Offices all over America have made it a rule that employees working within close proximity to one another cannot wear strong scents because so many have allergies to such smells. Those entering an A&F are more than likely there for clothing, so why must everyone be accosted by the overwhelming odor?

Size doesn’t matter (as long as you’re young and thin) – Even though this is a free country, and anyone can shop at A&F, they make a point of subtly letting customers know who they cater to and who they’d rather just see pass by the doorway. For instance, women’s jeans range from size 00 to size 12 – only sizes 00-4 are within easy reach. Size 6 may be reachable if you’re tall, but anyone sizes 8-12 has no choice but to ask for assistance. Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, but putting the larger sizes out of reach is A&F’s way of telling you you’re not wanted. Anyone with a little meat on their bones or a few extra years under their belt is given a lukewarm greeting and treated like an infant for even stepping foot inside the store… though one would hope such discriminating behavior isn’t included in their job training.

Put a shirt on – Reminder: Abercrombie & Fitch is a clothing store. Yes, that fact can be hard to remember considering none of the models actually wear the products they represent. Instead, their models (and occasionally their store employees) romp around half naked as if to say that wearing A&F clothing will make you so attractive that you’ll be stripping your new duds in no time. (I’ve never seen any half-naked men for sale, so I certainly can’t leave wearing one of those.) But despite the fact that sex supposedly sells, nothing is more repulsive than seeing a prepubescent boy strutting around at the doorway with his shirt off. Wear a shirt that grabs my attention and makes me want to buy one for my boyfriend, because if you wear nothing, you sell nothing.

Everything’s on sale, except for that – If you walk into a store and are greeted by a sign that says ALL jeans are on sale, isn’t it safe to say that EVERY pair of jeans in said store would be marked down in price to some extent? Not for A&F. Despite the fact that “all” alternately means “any”, “every”, and “the whole quantity of” (dictionary.com), A&F feels that by putting the words “as shown” below such an offer will get them off the hook when you discover not every pair is on sale. However, when the “as shown” price reflects the original cost, there is no sale. Just say SELECT jeans are on sale, that way no one is made to look like a fool.

You get what you pay for (usually) – People are losing their jobs and pinching pennies everywhere, yet Abercrombie & Fitch still has the nerve to charge $90 for a pair of “destroyed” jeans that will begin shredding the moment you turn on your washer. (Sadly, these jeans cost more than ones WITHOUT holes.) And it’s hard to think of the sale tables as actual sale tables when all you see are $50 sweaters marked down to $30. (If you’re going to spend $30, that tank top with significantly less material is definitely more worth the investment…) They’re unwillingness to bring down prices during economic hardship must be hurting their pockets more than their customers’. People may be willing to overlook some flaws, but their wallets are one thing they’ll always keep within view.