It’s no secret that we’re a site that promotes badass women doing badass things, and we love to use our platform to share stories that sadly don’t always get the type of mainstream coverage that they deserve. There is a long and frustrating history of women’s voices and stories being erased from history, whether it’s pioneer women in the science field, women who changed the world with their activism, or those who literally give up their life of privilege to help others in need.
This is the kind of stuff we live for, and know many others out there feel the same. Panache Lingerie has been running a pretty cool campaign for the past couple of years called ‘Modeled by Role Models’ where they find a handful of extraordinary, inspiring women, ask the public to vote on their faves, and get them to model their latest range.
We know it can be a bit of an uncomfortable intersection when a major brand or company looks to be “cashing in” on the female empowerment trend in advertising, more commonly referred to as “femvertising”. Questions of authenticity swirl and there is a lot of discussion over whether the brand actually cares about the message they are projecting or whether it is for sales purposes only.
For us it is a case by case basis on how we judge brands that choose to create female empowerment campaigns. When we looked at Panache’s role models chosen for the 2016 campaign, we immediately forgot this was a lingerie promotion and were so inspired by their stories. Among the six women chosen, we loved that there was at least one woman of color, a disabled model, and older women represented.
Eliza Rebeiro from the UK is an anti-knife and gang crime campaigner who launched the Lives Not Knives organization when she was 14. They help at-risk youth get back on the path to a life of education and employment, turning them into role models for others in their community who are involved in gang activity.
Sylwia Blach from Poland is a blogger, author and software programmer. She suffers from spinal muscular atrophy but refuses to let this slow her down. She is an ambassador for disabled people in Poland and works with an organization that runs a modeling agency for disabled models. Her fashion blog has become a huge inspiration for other disabled women who are unfortunately very absent from a lot of major fashion campaigns we see around the world.
Jayne Hurditch is a British mom who embodies the word “fighter”. Her first daughter Amy passed away at the age of 8 after contracting Meningococcal Meningitis, aged just 8. Her second daughter Molly was born with severe special needs. Recognizing how inadequately-equipped her school and childcare facility was to accommodate Molly’s needs, Jayne set up a charity where her daughter and other special needs children could play. Sadly, Molly passed away at the age of 17, but Jayne was determined to continue the charity and expand it to include life skills training for kids and teenagers with special needs.
Anja Loven is a Danish aid worker who let her retail job in 2011 to spend time in Africa as a relief worker. After being so affected by what she saw, she sold everything she owned in 2013 and moved to Nigeria to set up the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation. She and her husband care for abandoned children, providing health and education opportunities.
Here’s where we stop and ask you: are you reading this remembering it is a lingerie campaign? Or were you drawn in by the stories of these incredible women? We can only speak for ourselves when we say we were incredibly inspired by these women and so thankful to Panache for using their platform to share their stories with the world.
If you’re looking for an industry re-definition of beauty, this is it. The emphasis is on the woman, not just her appearance.
“We’re looking to shift the perception of what a fashion model entails. Our ‘Modeled by Role Models’ campaign celebrates achievements and contributions, looking to highlight the beauty within,” said Victoria Sargeson, head of marketing at Panache in a press release.
Aside from getting to know these awesome women and purchase lingerie that comes with an inspiring message, Panache is asking people to keep the conversation going by using the hashtag #MyRoleModel on social media to share more stories of women they know.
We listed 4 women above, but there are 2 more you should get to know by going to the website. If every brand in the world featured role models, we can only wonder the kind of shift that would happen in terms of the way we value women and their bodies.