JC Penney's New Ad Campaign Reminds Women They Don't Need To Disappear

JC Penney’s new #HereIAm ad campaign lets women tell their stories

“Would my life be better if I was thinner? No. But it would be better if I wasn’t treated so poorly because I’m not.” Jes Baker, the author of Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, drops some truth in the first few seconds of JC Penney’s new #HereIAm campaign.

It only gets better from there.

The company is letting plus-size women tell their stories in an aim to foster body positivity.

“I remember when I was 10 I wanted to be a singer, and I remember a family member telling me, ‘Sorry kid, it’s not gonna happen for you,'” says Mary Lambert, a grammy nominated singer-songwriter. The ad also has cameos by Gabi Fresh — style blogger and designer, Ashley Nell Tipton — designer and Project Runway season 14 winner, and Valerie Sagun — yoga practitioner and self-love enthusiast.

“Fat girls can do whatever they want,” says the ad.” You can do yoga, you can do rock climbing. Fat girls can run, fat girls can dance, fat girls can have amazing jobs. We can walk runways, we can be on the cover of magazines, wear stripes, bright colors…” the list goes on.

“There’s no ignoring this when it walks in the door,” Baker joyfully says, motioning to her body. “That’s a pretty powerful thing for me. Especially when you’ve been taught your entire life that you need to hide, or shrink, or disappear.” The ad cuts through all the body-shaming bullshit and gets to the point — one that’s rarely mentioned: you are you — whether you are 140 pounds or 240 pounds. Weight does not change the person you are.

“We’re countering a lifetime of learned hatred,” says Baker. Hell yes, you are. It’s an ad about accepting yourself, precisely how you are. Frankly, it’s a message that needs to be heard by everyone. These women are celebrating the skin they’re in and it’s awesome.

The campaign is joyful. Any of these women could proudly own a room — we all can. When you really know who you are, no one can knock you down.

As Tipton says, “The only person who should be defining me is me.”