Imagine getting booked for a job and then finding out after the fact that your mysterious boss was badgalriri herself! Well, for one seasoned model that became her reality after discovering that the lingerie campaign her agent had secured for her was actually for Savage x Fenty!
Iman McDonnaugh showed up to work with no clue who she was shooting for. “We didn’t actually find until pretty recently well after the job was done,” she said. “We had no idea what we were shooting when we were shooting it they wouldn’t tell us anything.”
While she didn’t know the “Sex With Me” singer was the designer behind the lacy bralettes she was sporting but the fact that the shoot was shrouded in secrecy gave her a hint that it was “something really big.”
She and a friend worked on a shoot and even after their representation revealed who it was for they still had trouble believing it because they “thought it was like too good to be true!”
During the shoot she and her fellow models “had a lot of fun.” She says, “the crew was really nice.” There was music streaming through the set to set the mood including “some Spice Girls throwbacks.”
While many have criticized the brand for not going far enough to include everyone (the bra sizes extended to triple D and most lingerie items extended to 3X) as a model she has a more nuanced perspective. “From the designer standpoint, I’m sure it’s difficult to do every single thing at one time. I think it’s great that she went up to the sizes that she did. Could she go up larger? Yes. Do I think that she might? Sure! I mean let’s give her some credit.”
She also appreciated the then ‘mystery brand’s’ inclusion efforts, “all of us girls that were on set were all different sizes, so we knew that it was gonna be a range of sizes as well as skin colors which is really nice. A lot of girls try to find nude bras to wear under clothes and it’s not the easiest thing because up until recently nude has just been one color. I really appreciated the fact that it came in a range of skin colors for all different types of women.”
McDonnaugh loved the line’s products even without knowing their origin. She says that when it comes to lingerie, “I think the most important thing for me is that it’s comfortable.” She loved that the Fenty selections “ranged from basic pieces that you could wear every day to stuff that’s really kind of exciting.”
The models’ values align with the Fenty brand. McDonnaugh has been unapologetic about using her voice to reinforce efforts to normalize all body shapes and skin tones in the media. “If there’s anything I can do to encourage diversity and the need for the representation of more than just one type of woman, I think it’s kind of a responsibility of mine to do so.”
She’s gone on record saying that token diversity isn’t good enough. Pointing out that while this launch included a range of body types other brands “tend to do it in an extreme way.”
“Everybody’s like ‘oh look at the big girl,’ it’s kind of like okay like we’re still shocked that there are women that are bigger than a size 4. It’s still a conversation that there are girls bigger than a size 4 modeling and girls that are bigger than a size four are on TV.”
She says the same lackluster approach appears in beauty campaigns as well. “They’re like ‘oh, look at our range of skin tones’ or whatever and it’s like you know five different blonde white girls and they throw in one Black girl and they’re like look we’re diverse now! You’re not though!”
McDonnaugh advocates for plus-size women and emphasizes that the body positivity movement is not a trend nor is it up for your criticism guised by health concerns. The model proudly states, “We’re women too, and we’ve always been here and now we have the opportunity for you to see us. Let’s just make it known that we’re a part of this we’re not a separate part we’re not a shocking part that we need to have a health discussion about. We’re just the same women too. We just look a little different but let it be known that we’ve always been here.
McDonnaugh has been in many major campaigns for brands like Forever 21 and Lane Bryant over the years and she’s received ton of love from those in her circle who are “always supportive of me,” but this time the feedback was overwhelming. “Everyone loves Rihanna and a lot of them were super stoked. My best friend’s little sister messaged me and she was like ‘oh my my god’ I’m so shook!”
She hopes that more brands will seamlessly integrate models of all sizes into their ads without publicly congratulating themselves for it. “If you want to do a campaign about it fantastic, but do it equally.”