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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.