Female body not a marketable good


By Napua Kalani

Ralph Lauren created his Polo Ralph Lauren line and Ralph Lauren Corporation in 1967 — when the world was simpler and hippies were alive and well. Yet, with his classy and high-end reputation, Ralph Lauren continues to instill poor values in his brand name, particularly with the brand’s body image history. Notorious for hiring ridiculously thin models, Ralph Lauren recently tried to improve its image by hiring its first plus size model. Despite this attempt, Ralph Lauren fails to recognize the beauty in women everywhere.

In 2009, model Filippa Hamilton appeared in a Japanese Ralph Lauren advertisement where her picture was digitally edited to make her waist look extremely thin, even smaller than her head. The ad got a lot of heat and criticism from the public, eventually the company released a statement apologizing for the image, stating, “We are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body,” according to reports by the Huffington Post in October 2009. The ad also spawned a poorly executed plan of trying to appeal to the American woman. In Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2012 campaign, they hired their first plus size model, Australian Robyn Lawley. Lawley was a very popular model in the business before her Ralph Lauren debut, and is most known for her Vogue Italia June 2011 issue, where she and two other plus size models shared the cover. Ralph Lauren hired one of the most famous plus size models to garner immediate recognition from viewers, with much success. Yet, the brand fails to genuinely relate to the average woman when hiring Lawley for the job because at 6 feet 2 inches and size 12, Lawley is just that — a size 12. In a report by The New York Times, a survey was done called “Size USA” which recorded the measurements of people in America and found white women ages 18-25 averaged a 38 inch bust, a 32 inch waist, and a 41 inch hip. When Lawley’s size is almost identical to the this category of women in the survey with measurements at 36-32-42, Ralph Lauren, by labeling Lawley as a plus size model, is deeming healthy sized women all over the world big. Even though the average straight size model fits the body mass criteria for anorexia, why are women Lawley’s size considered plus size? With media and online networking being the most advanced they’ve ever been, they cause body image problems for young girls and set an example, saying being 5’10 and 105 pounds is not only desirable but expected, making the perception of health and beauty extremely and traumatically distorted.

Ralph Lauren, with this recent ad and their known garbled body image attitude, is just perpetuating unhealthy body appearance and giving young girls impressions that perfect straight hair, a perfect bust, unnaturally tiny waist and amazingly thin legs are normal. Fashion icons and media idols should promote self-confidence and empowerment in women, not insecurity and self-doubt.


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