When I created Marvell Lane the sole purpose was just to create beautiful underwire swimwear for DD cup, E cup, F cup, G cup and H cup bust sizes. But as a business owner who is having an amazing time connecting with other women, who sees beauty in the unadulterated female form, I feel obligated to write my piece below, especially leading into International Women's Day. Happy reading and I hope to hear what your thoughts are!
Like most women, I have body image issues which quite frankly, I want to put behind me. I'm nearly 30, I don't have any more time or f*cks to spare in regard to stressing about my cellulite, stretch marks or complete absence of visible abdominal muscles. I'm sure you all feel the same. Just. Tired. Of. It. (I'm too intelligent to get keep getting caught up in these things.) But I also know that I'm tired of subliminal messaging telling me that how I am is not good enough.
When I started Marvell Lane I made a conscious decision to not "censor" the female body. When I say this, I mean I chose not to photoshop the natural elements of our model's body (the cellulite, stretch marks and wrinkles) as these are all natural attributes of the female form. I have all these things on my body. My mother and my sisters have all these things on their bodies. The women I see walking down the street have these elements on their bodies. These elements are given to us by Mother Nature so why would I want to erase them? If we were created having them then it must be impossible that they're "wrong". I think all these elements add character and personality to a person and photo you might see them in, as opposed to detract from the person and/or photo. Right? Now, I know I pluck my eyebrows and shave my legs (and that is also a form of censorship) but let's not shoot me down before we have a discussion!
In recent months, I've noticed a take-up of many brands being "brave enough" to get on board with showing diversity in their models. It couldn't be more timely or necessary for all women to start seeing themselves represented in the media. Even in the past couple of weeks Myer has released its latest campaign with different sized models and "non-models" (here's looking at your Moana Hope - you're so kickarse). IMHO it is probably one of their most interesting campaigns yet. So kudos to you, Myer! It's about time things got a little more interesting!
Where I get disappointed (cue the violins) is seeing beautiful women being photoshopped into oblivion - "curvy" or otherwise. I get very sad for all women, but particularly young, vulnerable women who look to the media for imagery that looks like them. For example, recently a huge swimwear brand decided to use a non-sample size model in their campaign. I applaud them and I am happy for any woman who is a size 10 and above; it's nice to see some different shapes in there and to see a hint of yourself reflected back at you! But I get so sad and despondent when I see that they photoshop the model's body to smooth their hips, slim their thighs and airbrush their skin to bring them closer to a "palatable" image. The images completely lack any of the identifiable female characteristics that pertain to these models: cellulite, rolls, wide hips and strong thighs. They're gone! Why? Why do they think these elements need to be removed? Women everywhere are crying out for beautiful, relatable content. Sure, these brands have done well by using a model who isn't a sample size, but they've still completely censored her and subliminally told her (and all women who stare at these images) that her body is wrong by photoshopping out all these characteristics.
What I want to say to other businesses who are deciding to "dip their toe" into diversity is this:
- Be Brave. You might be some of the first companies to have diversity in their images and going "first" isn't always easy.
- Trust In Your Photographer And Model. These people you hire are professionals - one knows how to model your product and work her body to sell your product, the other knows how to capture beautiful images; they are both professionals.
- Have Faith. Have faith in the intelligence and needs of the women seeing your imagery. Have faith knowing that whilst you might not be following the "traditional" path of using a sample-sized model that you will instead be rewarded immensely by the women who see themselves finally represented, can see themselves in your product and who will ultimately spend their money on your product. Again and again, if your product is any good!
I acknowledge that I haven't used a diverse range of body shapes yet (read: startup budget constraints. haha) but I did choose to use a woman who represents the core values of my business and she just so happens to be the average size Australian woman (a size 14). I chose Laura to be our first-ever model because she's a kick-arse, eco-warrior, modelling marine biologist (yes, she does about a million different things). She speaks passionately about many topics and it's afraid of putting a strong opinion forward. She's also a brilliant role model for all women (and men) to look up to. She was, and is, a perfect fit for Marvell Lane.
To all labels who are not sure which way to lean, then a great place to start is by setting your core values, finding someone who represents them and regardless of their size (provided you cater to their size), ask them to model your product. From there, watch as your inclusive community swells.
There is an amazing modelling agency, Bella Management who embodies this position whole-heartedly. Bella Management's founder, Chelsea Bonner is an incredible, intelligent and hard-working woman with a vision I fully align with. Chelsea was recently interviewed on No Filter by Mia Freedman - get it in your ears. Fascinating listening.