Why Was Lane Bryant’s New Ad Banned by Network Television?

Nora Crotty
News Editor

“This body is made for being bold, powerful, and sexy,” model Ashley Graham says in the latest commercial for Lane Bryant’s #ThisBody campaign. “This body is made for proving them wrong,” says Precious Lee. But, apparently, certain major television networks aren’t of the belief that #ThisBody was even made to be seen. 

According to TMZ, the clothing retailer’s new ad has been rejected by both NBC and ABC. The 30-second spot features several plus-size models, including Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girls Graham and Lee, posing, working out, laughing, and, in one instance, nursing a baby — all in various states of undress. 

TMZ says its sources “firmly believe” that the commercial was turned down due to the size of the women it depicts, not the nudity — citing similar ads for retailers like Victoria’s Secret that feature nearly nude “straight-size” models. But I’m not so sure.

One thing I’ve definitely never seen in a Victoria’s Secret ad is a model breastfeeding. Not that there’s anything wrong with it — there isn’t! But public breastfeeding has been such a controversial, hot-button issue for so long that including it in the commercial almost feels like Lane Bryant is making some kind of political or social statement. In that respect, I can kind of see where a TV exec who’s trying to avoid controversy is coming from in not wanting to air it.

I also can’t think of a Victoria’s Secret ad where the models are hanging out together completely naked, like they are in Lane Bryant’s. Again, I’m not personally offended — but, you know, we’re talking national television, and this is a really big country. 

Yes, I do think it’s important to our society that a wider array of body types is shown onscreen — we can’t all be Angels. But I also wouldn’t say that Lane Bryant was avoiding controversy when it created this commercial. Just look at all the attention it’s getting now. 

In a statement to Cosmopolitan, the brand neither confirmed nor denied that NBC and ABC had banned the ad, saying, “The THIS BODY campaign was meant to be a fun way for us to celebrate and honor women of all shapes and sizes. What is too much for some does not hold true for others. All women should be celebrated and feel empowered to express themselves as they see fit. We want her to know she can attract as much media attention, look just as striking as any woman, and decide what beautiful means to her. The THIS BODY commercial holds nothing back. It is a true celebration of women of all sizes doing what makes THEM feel beautiful whether it’s breastfeeding their newborn, flaunting their bodies the way they see fit, breaking down barriers all around and simply being who they are or want to be!”

We’ve reached out to Lane Bryant ourselves and will update this post when we hear back. 

UPDATE, 4:30pm:

When asked specifically about whether Lane Bryant’s commercial had, in fact, been rejected by NBC and ABC, a spokesperson said:

“The first edit was turned down out of hand and while we clearly created the commercial to air we will not edit it as we believe it’s a beautiful and appropriate expression of women’s bodies. We do plan to air this through our own media and through digital channels where they find it as acceptable.”

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