Lane Bryant's latest campaign is evidently not suitable for national network TV audiences: Its 30-second spot was banned by ABC and NBC. Featuring plus-size models Ashley Graham, Precious Lee, and Tara Lynn, the ad does contain a lot of skin (Lynn is also pictured breast feeding), but the main draw is the super inclusive, body-positive message: "This body is made for proving them wrong,” Lee says in the ad. Since there's an array of commercials with near nudity hitting the airwaves (say, Carl's Jr.'s overly sexy takes on eating burgers, or Victoria's Secret Angels sauntering around in skivvies), it's a little puzzling why this particular ad spot was deemed so risque. NBC reportedly asked the retailer to make an unspecified "minor edit to comply with broadcast indecency guidelines." One reason for the ban: the size, not the various states of undress, of the ad's models, as TMZ speculated.
"It’s disheartening. This campaign's intent and purpose was to create beautiful imagery celebrating fashion, women, their bodies, and what they can do with them, and to share it on television where all women could see it," Lane Bryant's chief marketing officer, Brian Beitler, told Refinery29. "Based on the release of the ad in our social channels, women seem to universally agree that the ad is both beautiful and appropriate." We've reached out to models' representatives for comment, and will update when we hear back. "Clearly what is too much for some does not hold true for others," Beitler says of the contested ad. "It is a true celebration of women of all sizes doing what makes them feel beautiful,whether it's breast feeding their newborn, flaunting their bodies the way they see fit, or breaking down barriers all around and simply being who they are or want to be!"
The retailer won't be tweaking the ad to make it more palatable for the networks' tastes, and instead is blasting it out via social media, savvily sharing the banned clip with full acknowledgement of its censorship. On Lane Bryant's Facebook page, the video is captioned: "The networks didn’t want you to see this. But we do. Share. Tag. Show everyone what #ThisBody’s made for." There are already over 2,000 comments, many replete with Facebook users' photos of themselves. Clearly, the ad (and the ridiculousness of its banning) has struck a chord. "I think this is fantastic — and beautiful. We need to build up instead of tearing down. Good on you, Lane Bryant," wrote one Facebook user. Others pointed out the size discrimination at play: "Wait the networks will air Victoria Secret's runway show but not a commercial showing women of different sizes more realistic than a size 0?" one commenter queried.
In addition to incredulousness over the ad being deemed unfit for the small screen, the conversation includes exactly the sort of size-inclusivity-extolling sentiments the retailer was probably hoping for, like this user's caption of herself in a bikini: "I am 44 years old, and last summer was the first time I wore a bikini thanks to Lane Bryant. I was a young single mother and never got a chance to wear a bikini and as I got older I thought I was too fat. But when I wore [my] bikini this summer I felt liberated and free!" This isn't the first time that the plus-size retailer's ads have been deemed unfit for viewers. In 2010, Fox and ABC initially nixed an ad featuring Graham from running during primetime shows American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, respectively, eventually allowing it to run later in the evening (the earlier portion of the night being deemed less appropriate for "racy" ads). Our take? As long as it's okay for campaigns featuring scantily clad straight-size models to get airtime, there isn't any sound logic behind censoring equally body-flaunting campaigns when the bodies in question are fuller-figured.