Every swimwear brand should take note of Target's beautiful, Photoshop-free ads.

Spring's warmer weather can bring about an unfortunate, terrifying reminder: Beach season is around the corner.

Summer should be the season of carefree living, but fashion brands too often use the extra sunshine as an excuse to shove body-shaming ads about beach bodies down our throats for their own gain.

Target is the latest retailer to change the way it advertises beach bodies in a new swimsuit campaign featuring a diverse set of models in ads that haven't been digitally retouched.

Photo courtesy of Target.


On one hand, of course, Target's move isn't entirely selfless — body positivity, it turns out, is great for business, and at the end of the day, a business is exactly what Target is. On the other hand, it's great to see retailers realizing that body shame isn't what customers want to buy and adjusting accordingly.

No Photoshopped curves, no air-brushed stretch marks — the ads feature women enjoying the beach just as they are.

Photo courtesy of Target.

"We loved working with these women because they embody confidence and inspire women to embrace and be proud of who they are, regardless of their size or shape," Target explained in a statement.

Photo courtesy of Target.

Body-positive fashion is cropping up in more stores and in the ad campaigns that promote them.

The numbers don't lie — customers seem to appreciate the efforts.

When American Eagle's underwear line, Aerie, stopped retouching their underwear models three years ago — "There is no need to retouch beauty," CEO Jennifer Foyle had explained — the retailer saw its sales climb 14% compared to the year before during the fourth quarter.

Keeping festive with just a dose of Holiday red. #AerieREAL ❤️

A post shared by aerie (@aerie) on

Some fashion brands have gone a step further in pushing the industry away from its body-shaming ways. More times than not, plus-size models still have an hourglass shape, and companies like H&M have come under fire for using plus-size models in ads while not selling clothes over a size 14 in stores.

A groundbreaking new campaign from Lane Bryant, however, actually shows the company's new fitness line on a number of plus-size athletes in a variety of body types, truly reflecting the brand's diverse customer base.

“Seize the day. In whatever body you have today." Preach @borntoreignathletics

A post shared by Lane Bryant (@lanebryant) on

So why are we seeing these more inclusive changes from brands now?

It's not like the fashion industry's obnoxious exclusivity and body-shaming troubles are 21st century inventions.

Social media has played a big role, AdWeek reported in 2016. On platforms like Instagram and Twitter, girls and women are speaking out about wanting retailers to have clothing options for various body types as well as more diverse models to sell the products. Seeing an opportunity for their bottom lines, brands are more than willing to listen and respond.

"We're seeing a great acceptance of girls in all different sizes, which is really exciting," Gary Dakin, a former executive at Ford Models, told AdWeek. "It's not something that was happening in our day at Ford."

It's a good thing, too, because the more the fashion industry realizes every body is a beach body, the better off we'll all be.

Note: Upworthy and Target have no business partnership.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

Believe
True
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