ModCloth has taken the pledge. The online fashion retailer became the first brand to officially pledge not to retouch its models by signing the Heroes Pledge for Advertisers agreement last week.
The pledge was created by The Brave Girls Alliance, the same group behind the bipartisan bill called The Truth in Advertising Act, which was introduced in March and asks the Federal Trade Commission to develop regulations regarding retouched advertisements.
By signing the pledge, which is self-regulated, ModCloth has effectively promised three things:
- To do their best not to change the shape, size, proportion, color or remove or enhance the physical features, of the people in ads in post-production.
- That if the company does make post-production changes to the people in their ads, they will add a “Truth In Advertising” label.
- They will not run any ads that include retouched models in media where children under 13 might see them.
It's not surprising that ModCloth chose to sign the pledge. The San Francisco-based company is known for its vintage-style clothing and accessories marketed to the younger set. “We’ve always believed in celebrating and showing real women in our marketing,” ModCloth chief marketing officer Nancy Ramamurthi told Today, noting that company hasn't used professional models since its launch in 2002 and has never used Photoshop to retouch them. "It was a no-brainer to sign on and participate.”
Though ModCloth is the first retailer to sign the pledge, thankfully it isn't alone when it comes to moving away from unrealistic perfection in their catalogues. Earlier this year Aerie, American Eagle's lingerie brand, released ads that proclaimed, "No more retouching our girls and no more supermodels." The words went with a series of ads featuring unretouched models complete with tattoos and normal, everyday folds and bulges. (Though they were all slim, young and beautiful...) The brand also redesigned its website to include a bra guide with each product modeled in every size to give the average customer an idea of how the garment would look on them -- and not a size zero model.
"This is now our brand," Aerie's senior director of marketing Dana Seguin told Fast Company in January. "It's not a seasonal campaign for us. It is now how we're talking to our customers."
And then there's sportswear company Title Nine, which, unsurprisingly given its name, has a pro-woman outlook. The company uses athletes as their models and, according to the website's model mission statement: "It's our models that best represent who we are here at Title Nine. All are ordinary women capable of extraordinary things.... We hope as you look through our online store and our catalog, you'll see a little bit of yourself in each picture." Similarly, Betabrand used non-professional models in its spring campaign; instead, online retailer selected women who had PhDs or were doctorial candidates to model the clothes.
Considering that study after study has found that depictions of women in the media have an impact on the way women and girls feel about their own bodies, it's heartening to know that some companies are taking care about their own portrayals of women's bodies. But while it would be wonderful to see more companies sign the Heroes Pledge for Advertisers, it would be even more wonderful for such a campaign to be unnecessary.