‘Beach Body’ Ad Sparks Controversy: #AerieReal, Dove & Lane Bryant Challenge Weight Stigma


Here we go again

'Beach Body' Ad Sparks Controversy

Photo taken & commentary written by Lydia Goldblatt http://www.lydiagoldblatt.com/

Another ad promoting the perfect ‘beach body’ and defining it by parameters that most women can’t attain naturally, let alone healthfully. Dietary supplement maker Protein World is getting international publicity for an ad that’s gone viral – and not in a way they intended.

“Are You Beach Body Ready?”

This company’s latest ad is aimed at defining a woman’s ‘beach body’ by an image of a slender (most likely photo-shopped) woman next to weight loss pills.

In a time when weight stigma is one of the primary contributors to eating and exercise disorders – ads like these only add fuel to the fire among girls and women of all ages who increasingly define themselves by the size of their bodies as they compare themselves to these images.

Related Article: Tess Holliday: Model And Body Image Activist Says #EffYourBeautyStandards

As the facilitator of the Green Mountain body image series, feminist and former activist against weight stigma – this battle can often feel like an uphill one, but when ads like these go viral because people (and mostly women – let’s face it) are angry and fed up with the size wars – it feels like a very welcome light at the end of a long tunnel.

What’s Changed?

It’s not like these types of ads are anything new – but the tolerance for these ads is shifting. Instead of blind acceptance, women are rising up against the perpetuation of the insanity around a woman’s body size and how society then defines the woman’s worth as a result.

We’ve had ENOUGH.

Defining a woman’s level of beauty and worth by her size is anything but original – it’s tired. It’s so, well, – yesterday.

And we have clearly – had it. In fact, an online petition aimed at getting this ad pulled from circulation was created to enable us to BE the change we want to see in the world – and how fast it’s gone viral is proof in point.

In 4 days petition signatures went from 100 to 20,000 signatures. 5 days later – it’s at 52,365 signatures.

These stats are encouraging….and to quote Claire Mysko, director of programs for NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association); “With social media, it’s become so much easier to shame brands for doing it wrong.”

#AerieReal Campaign

Speaking of NEDA, they recently openly supported the American Eagle Aerie line because they’ve launched a photoshop-free campaign that encourages women to accept the real ‘you’.

Related Article: If you could change one thing about your body, what would it be?

We need more companies – especially in the fashion industry – to pay attention to what is getting attention and why. It’s a gold mine of another sort – a better one that doesn’t add to disorders and illnesses, but serves to heal both.

A study showed that almost 70% of American elementary school girls are influenced by magazine pictures as far as how they define ideal body type, and almost 50% say the photos make them want to lose weight. ENOUGH.

Brands Helping to Shift the Norm

So – let’s also shine a light on who is helping to turn the tides.

The petition is one way, Aerie brand’s non-photo shopped images is another, and who hasn’t seen a Dove commercial that leaves you teary eyed and a bit closer to center around what is truly important?

Lastly check out this video which is a tongue-in-cheek response from Lane Bryant to lingerie conglomerate Victoria’s Secret ads.


The scaffolding is finally crumbling and what defines beauty, sexy and a beach body for that matter – is becoming more inclusive instead of exclusive of ALL shapes and sizes.

Like the rapidly increasing popularity of the online petition has proven – one action, one voice – can set off a landslide that creates a new collective, a new thought that is aimed at the acceptance and benefit of ALL of us.

Beach Body Ad Sparks Controversy


2 responses to “‘Beach Body’ Ad Sparks Controversy: #AerieReal, Dove & Lane Bryant Challenge Weight Stigma”

  1. Erin says:

    Hi AmberLynn,

    Agreed – we still have a LONG way to go – but I feel these ads are a small step in the right direction even thuogh is it’s a baby step in what feels like an ultra marathon. Thank you for sharing the article link – to echo the author’s point behind the Lane Bryant Cacique ad – these models ceratinly don’t tell ‘the whole story’. And I do hope to see the day when advertising is more inclusive rather than exclusive of ALL sizes and shapes.

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About the Author

Erin Risius, MA, LPC

Erin Risius, MA, LPC, is a former program director of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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