By Refinery29, Special for USDR
Refinery29, the leading digital media company for women, will launch The 67% Project this fall, a cross-platform initiative created to confront the reality that plus size women in America are consistently underrepresented in media and retail. Through The 67% Project, Refinery29 will institute changes to content strategy, implement new partnerships, and challenge audience perceptions in order to evolve the conversation and action around accurately representing women of all shapes and sizes — inclusive of women size 14 and up — at the same rate they exist in reality. The campaign will run from September 26 to October 2, with hopes of sparking longer lasting, industry-wide impact.
The 67% Project references the 67% of women in America who are defined as plus size — size 14 and up — yet who are consistently absent in the media, making up less than 2% of the images seen daily in top media consumed by a female audience1. The cultural bias is undeniable; studies have found that the U.S. has seen a 66% increase in weight bias over the past 10 years2. Additionally, Refinery29 conducted a survey of 1,000 women, entitled “The Threshold of Acceptability,” which confirmed this bias. Results showed that the larger a woman is, the more negatively she is seen, with word associations such as lazy, ugly, embarrassing, and sloppy. Refinery29 aims to highlight and celebrate this invisible majority in the U.S. population by challenging its content creators and industry counterparts to break plus size women out of the niche and integrate them into the norm, mitigating this bias permanently. This goal will also be supported in collaboration with Lane Bryant and Aerie, two brands that share in Refinery29’s ongoing commitment to support and celebrate body positivity and the realistic representation of women.
“Body diversity has become a long-overdue talking point in media and fashion as of late, but real change requires action. Through The 67% Project, Refinery29 is addressing the reality of recognizing the plus size community in the U.S., first by looking closely at our own shortcomings and how we can truly impact the shift in making the invisible visible,” said Christene Barberich, global editor-in-chief and co-founder of Refinery29. “This campaign is not about creating a standalone moment or a separate content strategy for plus size women exclusively. It’s about eliminating the walls that separate women or make them feel excluded, and it’s a chance to challenge ourselves and hopefully our peers in media to represent and reflect our audience in the most inspired and realistic way possible.”
Refinery29 has consistently promoted body positivity and included a diverse range of women and through The 67% Project, they will take this focus a step further by stating their commitment to include a broad range of shapes and sizes from 14-34 across all editorial content including photography, newsletter, video, Instagram, and Snapchat Discover. Tony nominated actress Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black, The Color Purple), will assume the role of guest creative director for the initiative, working alongside Refinery29’s team while contributing insights from her personal experiences as a plus sized women in the public eye. Refinery29’s content will include intimate profiles, fashion features, thought-provoking essays and video testimonials, spotlighting plus women from all walks of life, including blogger and designer Gabi Gregg, star of the upcomingHairspray Live, Maddy Baillio and the star of NBC’s new show This Is Us, Chrissy Metz. Additionally, a social campaign — #SeeThe67 — will get candid with real women, challenging the audience to hold the mirror up to their own unconscious bias. The evolution of Refinery29’s content will extend beyond launch week for The 67% Project, as the brand will continue to cast and feature plus size women across categories — including beauty, entertainment, wellness, sex, fashion, and more — on a regular basis.
“The fashion industry needs to step up its size inclusion, size 2 is not the norm for the majority of society and young girls need role models who look like them,” said Danielle Brooks. “I wish I had something like this growing up; showing successful, diverse, and gorgeous women of all shapes and sizes killing it across many walks of life and industries. Now I get to be that woman, be that voice I wanted representing me when I was younger. It’s time for us to be seen and heard. I am so proud to raise my voice with Refinery29 and be a part of the movement that is The 67% Project.”
Beyond Refinery29’s own content, a partnership with Getty Images sees the launch of the The 67% Collection. A curation of editorial-use images will showcase women of all shapes and sizes, inclusive of those size 14 and above, and will highlight realistic portrayals of their day-to-day life experiences. The growing collection will start with over 300 images portraying women from diverse backgrounds, aimed at providing the media industry with tangible tools to evolve their own representation of plus size women. The images will be featured on Refinery29.com and made available for editorial licensing exclusively through GettyImages.com.
“The 67% of plus size women in the United States are rarely depicted in a beautiful, positive or active way that accurately mirrors their lives or their presence in the population. The consequences of this invisibility extends far beyond the media and pop culture landscape,” said Piera Gelardi, executive creative director and cofounder of Refinery29. “We know one of the biggest practical roadblocks to representation for media and advertising is a lack of infrastructure within the modeling, photography, and sample lending industries to support including plus size women. For years, we have relied on street casting and other workarounds in order to be inclusive. Through this initiative, we are making our imagery available to others in hopes that many brands and content creators will become allies in this mission of bringing visibility to this unseen majority.”
Refinery29 will extend the conversation with the Every Beautiful Body Symposium in October 2016 in New York City. The daylong series of panel discussions, interactive workshops, and art exhibitions will touch upon a range of topics relevant to the representation of women in America, and will feature a keynote from Danielle Brooks. The symposium, which is also sponsored by Lane Bryant and Aerie, will speak to women from all walks of life, including leaders in fashion, media, retail, and entertainment. The goal is to enlighten, empower, and challenge audiences to be a part of this important dialogue that will continue the momentum of The 67% Project’s goals of inclusivity. Details on the symposium will be announced in the coming weeks.
The mission for inclusivity and representation does not begin and end with The 67% Project; Refinery29 consistently highlights bold and relevant issues that matter to its audience’s lives, including: Kelsey Miller’s award-winning Anti-Diet Project column;Take Back The Beach, a program focused on reframing the way women look at their bodies and promoting body positivity;Fertility Week, which aims to shine a light on the sensitive and intricate process of family planning; and portraying taboo topics such as mental health and sex through humor with the YouTube channel, RIOT. The Refinery29 brand remains committed to acting as both a conversation-starter and a resource for its audience around topics that apply to 360 degrees of a young woman’s life.
Please visit www.refinery29.com/67-percent-project-plus-size-body-image for more information and updates.
You can access The 67% Collection on GettyImages here.
Refinery29 is the leading digital-media company focused on women with an audience of 27 million monthly uniques on its website and a global reach of 225 million across platforms. Through a variety of lifestyle stories, original video programming, and social, shareable content across all platforms, Refinery29 provides its audience with the inspiration and tools to discover and pursue a more independent, stylish, and informed life. Please visit www.refinery29.com, www.refinery29.uk, andwww.refinery29.de for more information and to browse content.