Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition is famous for its notoriously sexy bikini shots. The models always look happy, bronzed, and toned while on a beach surrounded by crystal-clear waters. It's a dreamy and aspirational scene for sure — almost surreal.
This year, however, the magazine answered the call to represent more realistic standards of beauty by running ads that speak to women of all sizes. Ashley Graham starred in a Swimsuits For All ad, where she posed alongside women who weren't your traditional models, and retailer Lane Bryant sent a similar message, too. The company's campaign featured plus-size model Denise Bidot in a two-piece swimsuit with her stretch marks front and center. The tag lines "My Confidence" and "Inspired by #ThisBody" ran across the page. The ad, one you don't often see in SI, is a powerful reminder to embrace the body you have. Your blemishes, skin tone, and size should be celebrated.
"It's amazing to be a part of the change that's helping women see once and for all that nobody is perfect," Denise said. "We can still be beautiful in spite of our imperfections. It's time we celebrate each other and learn to love the skin we are in."
The Lane Bryant advertisement was left unretouched to make the message of self-acceptance even clearer. No matter your shape, we can all agree that this body-positive image is exactly what we need to see in magazines and the media. It was another small step closer to embracing a more diverse and inclusive fashion industry. We hope these ads are a launchpad to bigger editorials that will feature women who reflect those we see IRL.