With the headline “All Asses Are Not Created Equal” Levi Strauss jeans came out with a new line of jeans this August called Curve ID. Straying from their typical, straight-legged, no-curve style of the past, Levi came up with “a new revolutionary custom fit system based on shape, not size.”
The company studied women from around the globe using surveys and 3-D body scans to identify three “distinct body types that account for 80 percent of women’s shapes.” The three shapes are Slight Curve (for those less endowed with junk in the trunk…aka me), Demi Curve, and Bold Curve (we’re talking J-Lo). Each of the shapes comes in sizes ranging from 0-16.
In an exclusive interview with a reporter from the popular blog The Frisky, Mary Alderete, Levi’s vice president of Global Women’s Marketing, said, “Our main message was to educate the world, because this is a real shift for the industry, where women normally buy jeans by waist size and leg opening, we needed to educate women that there’s three ways to be any size and that our jeans are made to fit the curve of a woman’s body.”
Sounds like a great idea to me. Even Ellen Degeneres featured them on her show. Personally, I think it’s about time we go by a woman’s shape and not her “size” which changes from brand to brand.
So, what’s the problem?
As soon as they hit the market, these jeans “based on shape not size” stirred up quite the controversy. Bloggers and feminists complained that the Levi models in their ads were only representing “slender” and “Caucasian” females, when “plus-size/larger [women] are arguably the ones with more curvy figures.” Others complained that the size range of 0-16 was not broad enough and that more women fall outside of that size 16 measurement. Others opposed to the new jeans were angry that the women with darker skin were not “front and center” of the ad campaign.
True — if you take a look at the Levi Curve ID website the first models on the page are (I hope I can safely say this) light-skinned and slender. However, if you scan through site there are plenty of pictures of women of all ethnicities, shapes and sizes.
Let’s add to the controversy: what if they had put Latina and African-American women on the front of the new “curve” jeans? Don’t you think some in the media would have labeled Levi racist and said that they were stereotyping ethnic women as the ones who are “curvy?” On top of that, I’m sure Caucasian women would have come out complaining that “they have curves, too.” They are even whining about the headline “All Asses Are Not Created Equal,” stating that Levi is trying to say some backsides (Caucasian) are better than other backsides (other ethnicities). Talk about blowing things out of proportion — Frisky blogger Jessica Wakeman and I agree that the headline is “simply referring to the jeans, i.e., everyone has different-sized butts and we need more diverse jean options.”
I mean these people would have found something to complain about either way because that’s how they work, making it a lose-lose situation for Levi. GAP also has come up with a “curve” option and their three front-running models are light-skinned, too. However, no one is crucifying GAP for that.
My opinion is that Levi did a great job researching body types and creating this new campaign based on shapes and not sizes. Their roll-out was new, edgy, out there and meeting a need. It’s true: “curvy” is still a word with negative connotations in America while it’s embraced in other countries and cultures.
Alderete wants to change that:
“Ideally that word [curvy] would be an aspirational [sic] word in our culture as well, as it is in other cultures. In that regard, I’m proud we came out with a declarative statement that really embraced women’s curves and that we’re committed to fitting women of all shapes and sizes, as opposed to dictating what the jeans offering is for women.”
Props to Levi for sticking to their guns and being proud of their campaign to not only introduce a new line of jeans, but to change societal thought embracing women’s curves. Those bloggers and feminists who have a problem with the ad campaign need to get off their pedestals and look at the campaign for what it truly is.