Summer is here. The season conjures images of sun, sand, and relaxation. Unfortunately, it also conjures up thoughts of poor body image in girls and women.
We race to the mall, trying to find the most flattering swimsuits that will make us look “smaller.” We scroll through our Facebook newsfeeds and find posts and status updates about our friends’ “summer diets.” We decline invitations to pool parties because we become filled with anxiety about people seeing ourselves in our swimsuits.
Suddenly, a season that is supposed to be about fun and relaxation becomes a time of major stress as we worry about the way our bodies look in swimsuits.
Target has recently addressed this summer anxiety through launching its new swimwear campaign “Target Loves Every Body.” As part of this campaign, Target released a video called “The Perfect Swim Fit with Zanna Roberts Rassi.” In this video, Marie Claire Senior Fashion Editor Zanna Roberts Rassi helps four women select Target bathing suits to flatter their body types. She first asks each woman what her favorite body part is and what her “problem areas” are. The four women are then shown modeling the bathing suits that Rassi selects for them.
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As someone who has recently welcomed media literacy into her life, I can’t help but have mixed feelings about this video. Yes, I think it’s great that the video showcases women of diverse body types. We often see only thin women modeling bathing suits, making us feel as if we need to look a certain way to have fun at the pool or beach. I love that the video encourages women of different sizes to go enjoy themselves this summer.
Although Target’s swimwear campaign is more inclusive than traditional ones, it contains some really troubling messages. The swimsuit models may have diverse body types, but I still feel as if the video is selling the customers the image of the “ideal” bikini body.
The video appears to instruct viewers to select bathing suits that create illusions of specific body types. Rassi mentions that she selects the first two bathing suits shown because they make the women’s waists look narrower. That sends the message that slimmer body types are superior, and that we should all try to look as small as possible in our bathing suits.
Although the fourth swimsuit model is very slim, her swimsuit is still selected to alter her body’s appearance. Rassi mentions that the fourth bathing suit elongates the model’s waist and makes her appear curvier. Between these three bathing suit selections, the video tells women and girls to select bathing suits that make them look thin, curvy, and tall, three physical traits of the traditional swimsuit model.
I do think Target’s campaign is a step in the right direction in terms of marketing to women of diverse sizes. I just wish they weren’t marketing such a narrow standard of beauty in the process.
Haley Bierman is a recent college graduate working in theatre administration. She is extremely passionate about the arts, pop culture, and feminism. She enjoys Netflix, playing her ukulele, and hearing others’ viewpoints about the world we live in.