Anna Victoria is different than a lot of the trainers that you’ll see on Instagram.
The reason she does so is a brilliant one: to show women that she is like them. She may flex in lots of photos, but she doesn’t want women to get the wrong idea that she’s perfect and doesn’t have a single bad angle.
“I have always tried to share the more real side,” she said to The Cut. “Eight months ago, I shared a video of me picking at my stomach. It wasn’t to say, “oh, I’m so fat,” but to emphasise that when you see pictures, I’m posing and flexing. Flexing is a five-second thing. That’s not how I am walking around or when I’m sitting. I want to show people that there is something to grab.”
“All people see is the perfect side of fitness, and they think that that’s how they have to be. You can be a real person, be into fitness, and not give up every time that you have one little stumble,” she said to the website. “It’s ok to go on vacation, go totally off-track, lose some progress, and it’s ok to get back on track. People think you need all or nothing. That’s one thing that I want to break down.”
It’s worth noting that her program is called The Fit Body Guide as opposed to, say, Bikini Body Guide, as she’s selling wellness, which isn’t characterised by obsessing over the way your body looks or obtaining one, particular body type. It’s about being strong and taking care of oneself, embracing what is real, and trying to be your best.
It’s a smart tactic, and retail companies are employing it, too.
One brand that has very successfully sold “what’s real” is Aerie, American Eagle’s lingerie company. The company has made a name for itself by nixing Photoshop. Its campaign, #AerieREAL, promises to show girls as they are: cellulite, freckles, imperfect abs, and all.
It’s clearly resonated with young consumers; in its most recent quarter, comparable sales soared 32%.
“We realised that, why would we ever even take the time [to airbrush]?” Aerie’s Global Brand President, Jennifer Foyle, said in an interview in June with Business Insider. “It’s a waste of time and money and these models are gorgeous.”
In a weird attempt to make what’s au natural sexy, Victoria’s Secret has been hawking padding-free bras — or bralettes — to mixed results.
Victoria’s Secret has long sold fantasy with its Angels and its heavily padded bras — now it’s saying that to be padding-free is sexy? (And, as one Twitter users pointed out, women that wear bigger than a B cup bra likely won’t be able to wear this flimsier, trendy bra.) But the trends have been pointing to the beauty of reality, not fantasy.
“You have these other brands that are less so overtly sexy and much more focused on being natural,” Nomura analyst Simeon Siegel told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s too early to say it will steal a dramatic share from Victoria’s Secret but it’s not too early to say that there’s a real consumer preference for it.”
So it made sense that Victoria’s Secret tried to switch gears. After all, that historical emphasis on fantasy has led Victoria’s Secret to find itself in hot water from time to time. Do you remember the photo of the heavily Photoshopped model that went viral in October? If you don’t, click here. The photo wasn’t just comical in how poorly it was altered, but it showed the ramifications of trying to sell so-called “perfection.” And — though it may just be correlation, not causation — viewership for its annual fashion show dropped 32% in 2015.
By as soon as March, Business Insider caught hold of the fact that Victoria’s Secret was posting photos that looked slightly less altered — in fact, the women looked more real. Though we weren’t seeing full-on ab flab (do the Angels have any? They eat expensive plants and drink water-avocado-honey smoothies), it was a step that might have been necessary given what women today want in advertising.
After all, young women today aren’t buying what their parents were sold.
For proof, just look at how the dieting industry has been changing. Since people are more focused on their wellness, they’re less obsessed with trying to become thin; they realise that health doesn’t have a particular ‘look.’ This emphasis on eating well versus eating less has made diets that emphasise plant based foods and that are more akin to lifestyles become the most popular. And as if to show just how much more important strength and wellness have become compared to showing off a tiny body, Miss Teen USA has nixed its famous swimwear competition for an active wear section. That shows that activewear has infiltrated not only infiltrated our wallets, but that our values as consumers are ostensibly shifting: we want to see your strongest, not flounciest, self.
Despite this progress, women are still latching on to the promise of sculpted abs, and maybe it’s because it’s human nature to do so. We see our idols flexed and often airbrushed into visages of so-called perfection. But when companies or trainers break down the myth of perfection — as both Aerie and Anna Victoria have done — it helps women feel more confident about themselves. And when a product makes a woman feel good about herself, she probably will buy it. It’s a win for women, and also for retail.
NOW WATCH: This model was dropped from her agency for her size — now she’s the face of Victoria’s Secret’s top competitor
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