Good vibes only? It's time for brands to step up

Anya Shah May 24, 2020
Good vibes only? It's time for brands to step up

Brands have a key responsibility to ensure their body positivity messages are more than marketing slogans.

Over the last couple of years, an enormous move towards encouraging open conversations around diversity and inclusivity has seeped into almost every aspect of life.

From schools and work places to sports and the world of fashion, the power of acceptance is finally being recognised.

And dare we say that the British peculiarity of asking ‘how are you?’ without expecting an answer is becoming outdated?

In fact, frank conversation has become so important that consumers will sometimes avoid brands that have neglected to take part in this conversation, branding them as ‘old-fashioned’ and berating them across social media.

It’s been nice to see that many companies have taken to social media during lock-down to remind their followers that it’s OK to feel down or to gain weight.

But the increase in the amount of posts about mental well-being have revealed which brands are simply not acting on their words.  

A false positive

A quick scroll through Urban Outfitters’ Instagram will have you admiring their effortless aesthetic.

Beautifully arranged posts expressing ‘positive vibes only’ and asking ‘how are you feeling today?’ are scattered amid pictures of gorgeous models wearing expensive loungewear.

On the surface, it’s a pretty picture. But I couldn’t help noticing that there seemed to be a more sinister disconnect.

Divert your attention to the comments section and you’ll notice that their followers are anything but happy.

‘Young girls look to you for inspiration and this is damaging to their self-esteem,’ said one user.

In fact, 75 per cent of 18-24 year olds use Instagram in the US alone, according to Statista.

You can’t help but think that these posts only encourage you to ‘feel happy’ if you are a size zero who walks around in expensive bikinis.  

This message is damaging for young, impressionable audiences who seek validation from social media.

Brands need to act on their values

Adopting positivity as a marketing slogan without adapting your brand to embody those values is cowardly.

Not only does it take advantage of a movement that’s actually trying to make lives better; it fuels the toxic belief that you must act or look a certain way to deserve happiness.

It’s simply not enough to sell a t-shirt telling people to ‘be nice’ anymore.

It’s time for all companies, including Urban Outfitters, to start working on creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Because no amount of pretty posts can cover up the ugly truth.

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know
A 22-year-old Durham graduate, currently on furlough leave as a junior copywriter at Immediate Media. Looking for ways to stay creative during this time, as well as learn new skills.