We’ve all heard the argument that beauty comes in different shapes and sizes, hence Aerie’s Aerie Real campaign, Dove’s Campaign for Beauty, etc. but how many times do we hear that beauty is more than just one’s physical appearance? Betabrand, an online retailer based in San Francisco, became a first in fashion history when they elected to only use models that had a Ph.D. in their new spring line. In a society that preaches to girls from a young age that appearance is more desirable than intelligence, it is refreshing to see a fashion brand sending the complete opposite message.
According to Betabrand founder Chris Lindland, Betabrand founder told reporters, “When you look beyond the ranks of the professionally beautiful, photography becomes a lot more fun. Our designers cooked up a collection of smart fashions for spring, so why not display them on the bodies of women with really big brains? (Ciambrello, 2014).”
Betabrand’s choice of a campaign theme was most definitely a strategic fit for the brand; the clothing company sells clothing for the relaxed professional.
But with praise and attention often comes criticism. Many people were upset by the fact that Betabrand’s campaign lacked diversity. A vast majority of the models used in the Ph.D. campaign were conventionally attractive, mostly white, and slim (Mayer, 2014). While I can understand this argument, why criticize a good thing? Betabrand is the first ever fashion brand to put forth the idea that attractiveness can stem from something more than appearance. Recognizing beauty in all its forms is something that our society really struggles with today, and there are still many people out there who are not receptive to the use of all different types of models in the fashion industry (as sad as that is). To expect a single brand to use models of all shapes and sizes from different ethnicities while having a Ph.D. is somewhat ridiculous when you consider all of the other brands that are standing by doing nothing. Nothing is not even the right word; other brands are contributing to the notion that beauty is only skin deep and setting unattainable standards (i.e. Target and their junior bikini Photoshop mishap).
So despite all the criticism, I would just like to say thank you to Betabrand for being brave enough to break norms in the fashion industry and sending the message to women everywhere that intelligence is beautiful.
Mayer, E. (2014, March 11). Bustle. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from http://www.bustle.com/articles/17846-betabrand-uses-female-phd-candidates-instead-of-models-in-campaign-and-theres-only-one-flaw
Ciambrello, R. (2014, March 11). Each Model for Betabrand’s New Spring Collection Has a Ph.D. | Adweek. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/each-model-betabrands-new-spring-collection-has-phd-156238