On Friday, multiple news outlets reported that Lane Bryant's This Body ad, featuring plus-size models in Lane Bryant clothing, including lingerie, had been rejected by NBC and ABC. The networks didn't provide details about why the ad wasn't accepted, but many have speculated that it's because the models are plus-size. TMZ, which first reported the news, said its sources claimed the ad's rejection was because of the models' sizes, not because the ad features nudity. After all, nudity and semi-nudity on TV and in advertising aren't exactly a new frontier — think about ads for GoDaddy, Carl's Jr., and Victoria's Secret. (As one Jezebel commenter put it, "Big boobs and full hips just seem sexy and sultry without having to tart them up with big feathered wings or enormous cheeseburgers.") In a statement provided to Refinery29, NBC said, "As part of the normal advertising standards process, we reviewed a rough cut of the ad and asked for minor edits to comply with broadcast indecency guidelines. The ad was not rejected, and we welcome the updated creative." The network didn't specify what constitutes "indecency" according to the proposed guidelines. ABC declined to comment on the ad. Refinery29 reached out to Fox to see if the network had a similar stance, but a Fox rep told us that the network doesn't comment publicly on ads that haven't been submitted to the company. Refinery29 has also reached out to CBS about the ad, and the network declined to comment. Here's the Lane Bryant video in question:
The idea of a body-positive ad being considered indecent is rather depressing in today's society, but it also smacks of hypocrisy. In the past, TV networks have shown ads, for instance, for Victoria's Secret and Carl's Jr., and those ad spots are arguably much more risqué than the Lane Bryant ad. The Lane Bryant ad features breastfeeding women as well as nudity that's "more or less on par with a Dove commercial," Jezebel notes. The ad's rejection is particularly odd considering the fact that the first Victoria's Secret fashion show actually aired on ABC, though CBS has broadcast the Victoria's Secret fashion show ever since then. Still, both NBC and ABC have aired TV ad spots for the lingerie brand, which, unlike the Lane Bryant ad in question, are extremely sexualized. For example, the 2015 Super Bowl, aired on NBC, featured this Victoria's Secret ad:
Of course, the networks haven't actually said that the reason for the ad's rejection has anything to do with the fact that its stars, Ashley Graham, Precious Lee, and Tara Lynn, are plus-size models. Though, many people are reading between the lines. The ad's alleged "indecency" has sparked a much-needed conversation about what's acceptable to be shown on broadcast TV, and the backlash could spark a greater conversation beyond this Lane Bryant ad. "Clearly what is too much for some does not hold true for others," Brian Beitler, chief marketing officer at Lane Bryant, told Refinery29. But the online response to the This Body ad has been overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating the fact that people are hungry for a variety of body types depicted on TV and in advertising.
For its part, Lane Bryant apparently has no intention of providing NBC with "updated creative." The company told us that it's not going to alter the ad to fit the guidelines it's allegedly violating. The ad's rejection has actually created more publicity for the company, too: Lane Bryant shared the ad on Facebook with the caption "The networks didn't want you to see this," and it's already been viewed more than 900,000 times.