Advertisements for swimwear are notorious for featuring ultra-thin models with a body fat percentage that's almost nonexistent (Victoria's Secret, we're looking at you).
But Target's new swimwear campaign, "A Fit for Every Body", is hitting all the right notes by featuring a range of real women (not models!), each showing off a different suit suited for her unique body type.
Launched this week, "A Fit for Every Body" highlights four bloggers who embody a range of sizes and style personalities: Nashelly Messina, Nikki Minton, Sarah Boyd and Chantè Burkett. The foursome, who are each promoting the campaign on their blogs, came together with stylist Zanna Roberts Rassi to shoot a promo video.
"We've all got some favorite and less favorite parts of our body," Roberts Rassi starts off in the video with the four bloggers. Unsurprisingly, they all automatically knew their body insecurities right off the bat.
Wearing a swimsuit can highlight these insecurities, creating fears and anxiety about wearing them. A disheartening 2007 survey found that 50% of women have turned down invitations that required wearing a swimsuit, and a 2012 study of young women found that they "self-objectified" and judged themselves in a bathing suit, which in turn worsened their moods.
By taking ownership of their insecurities as well as the features they're most proud of, Target's approach empowers each woman to embrace her body.
"Women need to see other women embracing their bodies, especially women who are the same race and may have the same body type as theirs," Burkett told Mic in an email. Plus, as Burkett wrote on her blog, Everything Curvy and Chic, the photos are "so realistic with light body edits."
Partnering with bloggers, not models, is also a powerful part of the approach. Nashelly Messina, the blogger behind Fabulatina and another "A Fit for Every Body" "model," told Mic:
"American women are not the media-celebrated size 2's ... It's not just about not working with models or bloggers that look like models. It's about partnering with average sized women who are relatable and aspirational. Consumers are ready to see themselves in campaigns and thankfully Target understands that."
That was Target's mission, they told Mic in a statement. By "partnering with real women that represent a range of body types," the photos reinforce the idea that all women can look great in a swimsuit. We just have to look for what works best for our distinct body types, and that's OK.
Of course, such campaigns shouldn't be groundbreaking at this point.
"It's shocking and sad that we're still talking about these types of campaigns as 'innovative,'" Messina said. "I hope women are encouraged to love their bodies and celebrate their best assets and know that we all have imperfections, and that's OK and real."
With more ad campaigns like these, plus models like Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham better reflecting "real women" every day, it seems we're slowly but surely getting to the point where "bikini bodies" are recognized for what they are: just bodies.