Are Beauty Standards Improving?

There have been many attempts recently for major companies to join the bandwagon of body positivity. Sadly, that is all they are doing. Major companies latch onto a popular concept to drive up sales, whilst being seen as doing a good thing. The problem of course is that they are not truly body positive at all, but are perpetuating the exact same beauty standards with the label 'body positive' attached. 

What's up:

While trolling through Facebook, an article came up in my newsfeed about Zara's failed "Love Your Curves" advertisement. The ad showed two women looking over their shoulders at the viewer, wearing jeans and t-shirts with the words "Love Your Curves" in big bold letters next to them. Apparently, this was an attempt to promote body positivity from an international chain-store brand. A failed attempt, as many viewers pointed out, seeing as neither model was particularly curvy, or deviated from any societal norm of what a woman should look like. They looked no different from any other model in previous ads, which made the ad rather hypocritical.

Similarly, Urban Outfitters seemed to promote body positivity, but in reality, failed to cater to the same people whom they appeared to celebrate. They hired plus-size models to give the image of a more inclusive brand, but when it came down to it, they didn't have clothing in the size the models actually wore.


The problems:

How can these brands say one thing, but show another? Especially with something so important as our body image? Not only has Zara and Urban Outfitters utterly failed, but they have made it even harder for people to fight against body image dysmorphia. Zara has now given a new definition to the word "curves". Anyone already fighting with their body might look at these models, and use them as a baseline for what a curvy body might look like.

The failure of these ads shows them to be purely a marketing scheme. Fashion brands are trying to get more customers, and toot their own horn at the same time. If they really cared about promoting body positivity, there would be no criticism that the models shown are too thin, or don't accurately represent a range of body types. They would stock up in as many sizes as possible, to exclude any person based on their body type.


Are there any positives, or am I grasping at straws?

It might be a very unpopular stance, but I would like to see if there are any positives in these failed marketing schemes. It is commonly said there is always a silver lining, and I want to try to find it in this instance. So, here it goes:

If other companies see the criticism Zara and Urban Outfitters have undergone after this, they may make more of an effort to portray accurate body types. Unfortunately, brands can just as easily ignore the fight for body positive models and ads and not try to learn from this situation, so I'm not sure how much of a positive this could be. This failed campaign has also sparked conversation. Zara and Urban Outfitters are being challenged. In a world where change rarely occurs over night, and setbacks are common, these failures could gain attention and hopefully be used in the fight for body positivity. This may be a setback in beauty standards, but this can at least be a lesson in not becoming complacent.

Attempting to find the silver lining is by no means an attempt to write off what Zara has done, or failed to do.