Is Real the NEW Ideal?

Posted by Louise Ferguson at


Louise Ferguson, Skinny Tan Founder discovers the new way to advertise:- 

As we celebrate the achievements of women around the world on International womens day part of the conversation inevitably comes back to "body image" and how traditional media makes women feel trapped by an impossible ideal. 

But as a founder of a tanning brand who deals in body image daily and reads the commentary from literally thousands of women on our brands Facebook page I wonder if women aren't already aware that the impossible ideal is simply that.

Skinny Tan reaches millions  of women and with our popularity on Social Media platforms we have the luxury of seeing exactly how women respond to media images in real time. 

Having been influenced by the media ourselves we have from time to time used slim models to show the lovely even tone of our tan.  However the response of our customers to these images is often surprising.  Some making it clear that this is not always how they want to be advertised to anymore.

The model shots often inviting the same question

"lovely picture but what does your tan look like on  real women?" 

That question makes me think that women are no longer comparing themselves to models and are more aware than ever that this image is not real, achievable or even (dare i say it) desirable..

Besides as the creator of Skinny Tan showing real women made sense to me.  I am a happy size 14-16 myself.  I feel slimmer with a tan but have no desire to be stick thin.  I have a daughter who I prefer to teach the beauty of being kind and smart and confident than I ever would allow to define herself by the number on a scale.

And for Skinny Tan showing real women in our tan was easy.

Why?  Because every week more and more women were loving the streak free results and sharing their photos.  No professional airbrushing simply home snaps of various body parts - mostly legs - sometimes they had their husband or their pet or their teenage daugher or holiday tent in the shot.  But thats because they were always authentic and very real.   

Sure creative brand gurus would advise me.

"Real photos are great but you need a brand identity"  OR  "You should use models like other tanning brands as its obviously what works."

But thanks to social media I could see that  for our tanning brand it wasn't working for us in the same way. 

Thousands of comments everyday from women were proof enough to me that perhaps perceptions were slowly starting to change.   Real beautiful confident women with every body type and size and fabulous women of all ages and from all walks of life didn't mean we had no brand identity it WAS our brand identity.   

And as a woman and a marketer  it has been empowering to see that many women really do love to see other women confident in their own body image more than the traditional model shots that advertisers had believed and used to body shame us into buying products for far too long.


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