The Hill I'll Die On...

By Lucy Harbron - 20:03

Last week I saw a pregnant influencer promote skinny tea.

Not only is the skinny tea unsafe for pregnant women, with the brand saying so on their website, and not only is it dangerous for pregnant women to really lose weight let alone lose weight by ingesting god knows what that will pretty much just make you shit out the entire contents of your tummy. But her reaction to the inevitable criticism was wildly ignorant.

‘Your fuckin daft if u think an eating disorder can come from a post like mine’

Trust me I’m all for making your money, and I think influencer marketing can be a really beautiful and powerful tool that allows people to make money for their personal brand and work. But this isn’t an example of that. Skinny teas and really any kind of weight loss supplement are the darkest corner of diet culture. They’re poison masquerading as science, promising limitless results without any equal discussion of side effects or problems. And you really think these influencers got the body they have through sipping on some tea? Most of them are fitness influences or have openly had (and often promote) cosmetic procedures, and most of their photos are filtered and edited. I know this, you probably know this, but the effect that images like that have on young women is statistically proven. It’s simple; weight loss adverts have a negative effect on mental health and body image. So, the claim that this post won’t have an effect, that it won’t trigger negative patterns and possibly lead to an eating disorder, is ignorant. And in 2019, we don’t have room for that.

In a similar act of carelessness. This is Boohoo’s idea of a plus size/curve model

…what. According to this image, I’m plus-sized. Maybe even more than that. Standing as I do, as a 10/12/14 (depending on the brand and garment) my collar bones don’t pop out like that. My jaw couldn’t cut glass like that. My cheeks are nowhere near that hallow, and my legs would stretch those shorts. This woman, though beautiful, is not plus sized. I see a tweet almost daily about this, people are angry at rightly so because all people truly want when purchasing is representation. We want to see ourselves, imagine ourselves looking and feeling good in these clothes we give our money to, not to come online only to be confronted by an image that does nothing but say that this brand thinks we’re not the right shape, not beautiful enough for the clothes they’re selling us. Once again, it’s careless. 

And once again, we don’t have room for that.

I believe in 2019 our brands have to think. Specifically, they have to think about 3 things:

  • The environment
  • Representation
  • Experience – encompassing everything from the basics of accessibility from shop entrances and things like zipper lengths and small ways to aid differently-abled people, to considering the emotional experience of purchasing and giving away your hard-earned money.

The hill I’m willing to die on is that if a brand isn’t being thoughtful, they’re being toxic. 

Carelessness about these things shows a care for nothing but one thing; money.

I’m not ignorant to the machine of business. I know brands need and want money, and any big change in marketing or models can be a risk. But all we do is prove the success of this risk. Making people feel included and good, it pays off. And it’s so easy; see ASOS using a girls image on their website after some boy slagged her off in their dress, Missguided’s Keep On Being You campaign, brands like Aerie who are committed to no to photoshop and yes to showing all bodies, the praise and thanks brands get simply for showing and considering different abled bodies. Why? Because people want to be seen and heard and spoken to. Fashion is on a beautiful curve upwards as consumers hold brands up to higher standards, and demand to feel nothing but good about their purchases. And the result is a purge; brands that aren't bothered will get left behind. 

If you’re not speaking to people, you’re using them. Brands that don’t care disregard every second of work a person has done to be able to purchase that garment. They don’t care about the vulnerability of ordering new clothes; the possible anxieties and worries that someone could go through at the hands of small sizing or uncertainty of fit. They don’t care about making sure everyone feels included in fashion; the one thing that unites us all in the power to present and experiment with ourselves. They’re saying they don’t care about us feeling good, don’t care about our bodies and shy away from the responsibility of the effect that might have. If they don’t care, who will? Who should?
In 2019 we have to care. With ever-rising mental health statistics, a state of climate emergency, continued fight for visibility for so many marginalised people and bodies, no one can bury their head in the sand anymore. And those that do, won’t hear the parade as we leave them behind, as we unfollow them, stop buying from them, decide to give our money and our likes to someone else who will talk to us and treat us like humans.

My career aspirations remain the same, and each scroll on Instagram fuels the fire; each tap to unfollow is getting more and more aggressive, I’m hoping for a change before I break the screen.

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