Many fashion brands now incorporate International Women’s Day (IWD) into their lines. Slogan T-Shirts seem to be the preferred medium of communicating female solidarity. Stella McCartney’s is emblazoned with “Female Rebellion”, Net-a-Porter x Ninety Percent’s reads “Incredible Women” and Bella Freud opted for “She Said”. Though whether brands produce specialist IWD products, or just generally promote it through their media channels, most companies somehow align themselves with the event- they’d be foolish not to. When it comes to supporting women’s rights, the fashion industry has been there, done that, got the T-Shirt.
The industry has been slammed from a variety of angles for these efforts. Some claim the profits donated to women’s foundations are too slim, some highlight that the industries’ high-power positions continue to be male-dominated. Regardless of my overall opinion on fashion’s testimonies to IWD, one brand’s tribute stuck out as particularly hypocritical.
Missguided launched their “Babe with a Sign” campaign, teaming up with influencers and staff-members who posted Instagram images of themselves on holding empowering signs. This promised to “celebrate women and everything we stand for”.The posts themselves were a simple and effective attempt at conveying bite-size massages of self-acceptance. However, on closer inspection, the messages ring hollow.
The campaign caught my eye when one ‘influencer’ posted an image of herself with the sign “stop telling women that cellulite isn’t natural”. She makes an important point, and I clicked on the tagged Missguided account, wondering what other empowering, diverse representations of women their feed might offer. I scrolled and scrolled, but cellulite, that feature that with Missguided are directly aligned with through the influencer’s post is celebrated nowhere. Cellulite is in fact completely evaded, and despite being celebrated on IWD, every other day of the year, to Missguided, cellulite does not exist.
The company provides themselves ample opportunity to show cellulite. Their account features plenty of up-close, scantily clad shots to show their clothes can be worn by bodies possessing cellulite. Not only that, these shots overwhelmingly feature slim, toned figures in a volume that is unrepresentative of the variety of women’s bodies. It is not that Missguided do not feature other body types, but the overwhelming message is that ‘slim’ is the optimum ideal. This is another hypocritical contrast, given their repost of one smiling influencer and her sign “beauty has no size”.
So in the words of the ‘babes of Missguided’, I ask the brand “stop telling women that cellulite isn’t natural” and also start telling women that “beauty has no size”. Whether it’s on a sign or a T-Shirt, if fashion brands cannot truly live up to the messages they communicate, their association with IWD should be decried as nothing more than a marketing ploy. Missguided were particularly foolish for so blatantly contradicting the values they tried to align with, but they are surely not the only brand making false promises this IWD. Their mistake reminds all consumers to approach such campaigns with caution, and not to accept anything at face value.