After coming under fire in recent years, the brand continues its body positive swimsuit campaign featuring unretouched ads
Target is trying to keep it real.
The big box store debuted a new line of swimsuits with more than 1,700 different styles fit for just about every body type, featuring unretouched models of varying sizes and ethnicities. It’s the second year in a row the brand has carried out the diversity-driven initiative after coming under fire for visibly photoshopping a model’s arm in 2014.
“To show off the new styles you’ll see bright, vibrant images throughout our marketing campaign — all meant to inspire guests to have fun while rocking their favorite swimsuit,” Target announced in a press release. “Something you won’t see? Reshaping or airbrushing. Building on the strong foundation we set with last year’s campaign, we’re celebrating women and encouraging them to embrace the beauty of their own bodies.”
The brand launched its real women-inspired campaign last year with plus-size model Denise Bidot (who showed stretch marks), African American model and TV host Kamie Crawford, dancer Megan Batoon and pro skateboarder Lizzie Armanto.
“When you’re a curvy girl it can be hard to find a suit that fits perfectly in all the right places,” Bidot said in a Target press release last year. “Once you find that perfect suit that fits just right it will give you that extra boost of confidence that will make your pool or beach day even better.”
Never be afraid to look into the mirror and give yourself a pep talk before heading out to the beach. It might just be the confidence boost that changes the day. I love the simpleness yet elegant look of this @targetstyle suit. This bikini says "I've got this!" Click the link in my bio to see all the styles #targetswim has to offer you. 🦄😎 📸 @MichaelaDalzell #NoWrongWay #beyou #sponsored #targetstyle
Women are increasingly demanding more diverse representation in media and fashion brands and department stores are rushing to keep up. Target was praised recently for including plus sizes in its upcoming collaboration with Victoria Beckham and its Ava & Viv plus-size line, though its previous plus size faux pas are still in the minds of consumers. “If the customer has been told that the store isn’t interested in servicing them, they remember that,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “But there’s plenty of opportunity for Target to show they’re legitimately interested in their well being.”
The politics of plus-size can be tricky. Consider how Lena Dunham recently complained about the negative attention she received following her apparent post-election weight loss, after years of being told she was fat. “Suddenly I got all of these people being like, ‘You’re a hypocrite. I thought you were body-positive,” the “Girls” creator said on Wednesday’s “Ellen DeGeneres Show.” “I do, I just understand that bodies change, we live a long time.”
Still, navigating issues of body image can pay off handsomely. The plus-size women’s clothing industry is valued at $17 billion according to NPD. Aerie, the American Eagle Outfitters subsidiary underwear label that’s known for using a diverse cast of models, is a case in point. Sales there grew by 21% in the third quarter of 2016, even as many clothing retailers struggled. “If Target are even remotely successful, which they will be, you’ll undoubtedly see others emulating them,” Cohen says.
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