Plus-size model was fat shamed for active wear photo before fashion brand savagely clapped back
Over the last few years, we've started to see a positive change happening in the advertising industry. Brands are becoming more conscious of the sorts of models they use in commercials, paying particular attention to provide representation for a wide range of races, sizes, and genders.
But every time it seems like we make a step forward in representing diversity in advertising, somebody tries to make sure we take another two steps back.
Recently, Academy Sports + Outdoors, a women's activewear brand, featured Anna O’Brien as the face of their BCG line: a range which specifically caters to larger women. O'Brien is a plus-size fashion blogger, and says that part of the reason she has struggled to lose weight over the years is that she could never find workout clothes that fit comfortably.
Unfortunately, though O'Brien was incredibly happy to be a part of the campaign, not everybody else shared her enthusiasm, with some leaving offensive comments on Academy's Instagram page.
Many were criticizing the brand for using a plus-sized model in order to advertise activewear, something which is almost always exclusively modeled by thinner people. Others used the posts as a platform to launch personal attacks on O'Brien, calling her names and using offensive terms.
Thankfully, some other users stepped in to call out the haters.
And others chose to ignore the trolls altogether, instead using their comments to show their support for Academy.
Best of all, though, Academy actually stepped in to call out one particularly aggressive commenter, and put him in his place about what the brand stood for and aimed to achieve.
"At Academy, we truly believe every woman should have the same opportunity to enjoy sports and the outdoors," they said in response to the user. "As a result, we will continue to represent a wide range of body types. We're all different, but our access to an active lifestyle shouldn't be."
What an excellent response: no name-calling, no reactive statements, just a positive brand standing up for the people it represents.
However, even without Academy's perfect clapback, the attacks from trolls were pretty redundant, anyway; firstly, because telling someone to lose weight while they're marketing a product designed to help people lose weight is kind of stupid, and secondly, because O'Brien herself is too busy loving her job to care.
"I spent 25 years waiting to be active," she said. "Now I will spend 25 more helping people of all sizes see the benefits of moving more."
She went on:
"For plus size women, finding active wear that fits and is available in-store is nearly impossible. This single challenge is one of the greatest barriers to plus size women becoming active. With the launch of BCG Plus, Academy is offering a whole new group of women the opportunity to move more."
In another of her Instagram posts, O'Brien had some more choice words about dealing with critics:
"At the end of the day, I define who I am. I define what I put out in the world. People’s reactions to my gifts are out of my control. So why worry about them? Acknowledging and surfacing them is important to increase awareness and hopefully bring change. However holding onto them? It’s toxic. Every time I return to this realization and every time I find peace in it. There’s a quiet serenity in knowing, regardless of what the world thinks, that you are doing the best you can."
What a way to put the trolls in their place.