Swimsuit season has descended upon us, and women everywhere seem to be preparing. As though wearing a swimsuit was something anyone had to earn with squats and crunches and miraculous, unattainable perfection. Every year, normal folk head to the beach to swim and hang out, and the world does not end. And yet. Every year, we are inundated by impossible visuals from fashion magazines, bathing suit ads, and beyond. We are given a standard to which women should hold themselves. One company is subtly trying to change all of that. ASOS's bathing suit ads are quietly, brilliantly revolutionary this year.
How is the British fashion outlet making a difference, you ask? By sharing ads of models who have not been retouched. By showing a little stretch mark here and there. The change is subtle, and perhaps not everyone noticed the difference. But sometimes subtle changes — quietly embracing the realities of the human form rather than touting impossible expectations — is just as effective as shouting from the rooftops. ASOS, an online retailer that has built a name for itself since 2000 by selling fashionable clothing at affordable prices, has been ahead of the game for years with its shape-inclusive sizing. These un-retouched photos of models proudly baring their stretch marks is the latest in what appears to be a quiet campaign to change the way swimsuits are sold.
So here is what is so especially brilliant about these un-retouched photos; ASOS has yet to issue a statement, nor begun an ad campaign to promote positive body images. The company simply shares pictures of bodies that really exist, rather than trying to sell images of what women should strive for. This is how ASOS sells bathing suits. Simple. And fans of the site are loving it, particularly women who have struggled to come to terms with their own bodies and the way they felt they were "measuring up."
While the internet has recently taken notice of the liberating photos of models with stretch marks, the site doesn't appear to have edited out any "imperfections" for at least a year.
The online retailer, which also has an extensive ASOS Curve line, has chosen not to airbrush away other details on its models either, like acne scars and birth marks. Because actual humans have acne scars, stretch marks and birth marks, and yet they continue to wear (and purchase) swimsuits.
Sharing photos of models isn't going to save the world. But you know what? It's clearly making a little headway toward helping women (and most importantly, young impressionable women) accept the bodies they have, rather than focusing on the bodies they wish they had.
Small steps, small changes... a better world.