When it comes to plus-size fashion, more often than not, retailers carrying a line geared toward sizes 14 and up end up completely missing the mark. Rather than catering to the needs of today’s savvy plus-size shoppers and promoting inclusion, retailers will carry a small collection (sometimes featuring designs that cater to mature women) that ends up hidden away in the back corner of their stores. Slowly but surely, this afterthought attitude toward the plus-size market is starting to change. JCPenney’s #HereIAm campaign is blazing a new trail, not just for its customers, but also for body positive advocates who want to spread the message of body acceptance.
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The groundbreaking new ad features several notable figures in the body positivity world; author and advocate Jes Baker, singer Mary Lambert, blogger and designer Gabi Fresh, designer and Project Runway winner Ashley Nell Tipton, and yoga practitioner and Instagram star Valerie Sagun. In the emotional video, the women talk about the challenges they’ve faced growing up in a not-so-body-positive world, and how they’ve found self-acceptance while crushing major stereotypes. It’s an important message for a notoriously underrepresented demographic of women and it goes far beyond just selling clothes.
“Would my life be better if I were thinner? No, but it would be better if I wasn’t treated so poorly because I’m not,” says Jes Baker, author of Things No One Tells Fat Girls. All five of these women have broken boundaries in their respective fields and are credited for helping to change the perception of what it means to be a woman of size. “There’s no ignoring this when you walk in the door,” adds Baker as she points to her body and laughs gleefully. “That’s a pretty powerful thing for me, especially when you‘ve been taught your entire life that you need to hide, or shrink, or disappear.”
The beauty of the #HereIAm campaign is in its hopeful message. As each woman describes how self-acceptance can lead to changing the overall narrative, the message is clear: Love yourself and your body as it is now. “My size isn’t an indicator of my worth,” adds Mary Lambert. “You can’t love your body for what you hope it turns into without actively loving it for what it is today.”
In the caption for the video, JCPenney writes, “There is true beauty in individuality. So, when we start letting go of preconceived notions of who someone is based on what they look like on the outside, we all take one step closer to body positivity.” We can’t agree more and can’t wait to see how the #HereIAm campaign continues to unfold.