Adidas ADDYY, +2.22% promoted its sports bra collection on Twitter TWTR, +4.63% and Instagram FB, +5.36% on Wednesday by posting an image composed of dozens of bare breasts in all of their natural glory.
“We believe women’s breasts in all shapes and sizes deserve support and comfort,” reads the post. “Which is why our new sports bra range contains 43 styles, so everyone can find the right fit for them.”
It’s part of Adidas’ promotion for its revamped sports bra collection. “We’ve re-engineered our entire portfolio with 43 new styles, available in 72 sizes, catering to more bodies and workouts than ever before,” the German sports company explains in a news release, which notes that 90% of women aren’t wearing the right size sports bra.
“Women’s bodies and breasts come in many sizes, and there are endless ways in which they move during exercise,” it continues. “There really is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to bras.”
It should come as no surprise that the décolletage collage stopped plenty of social media scrollers in their tracks. The original tweet racked up several hundred retweets, and thousands of quote tweets and “likes” in just a few hours. This and the report that the brand had cut its sponsorship of French soccer player Kurt Zouma, who was caught kicking and slapping his pet cat in a video, led “Adidas” to trend on Twitter on Wednesday.
The Instagram post drew around 20,000 likes as of press time.
The promo appeared to appeal to a sense of inclusivity and a celebration of body positivity. And some readers certainly saw it that way. “This is beyond great! I’m excited to try and fully support this,” wrote one woman in the comments on Instagram.
“Amazing on normalizing the female body all the way and providing the support that our body actually asks for,” wrote another.
But many of the comments and quote tweets took a more cynical approach. Sex sells, after all, so critics suggested that posting images of uncensored breasts to get clicks was exploitative, low-hanging fruit. Others called out the unexpected nudity for its not-safe-for-work (or class) nature.
And others asked Adidas to do the same for men’s body parts. “Ok now do one for jock straps,” wrote one.
Adidas was not immediately available for comment. The company pinned the post to the top of its Twitter profile.
The Adidas Twitter account also responded to some of the comments, such as one reader asking whether the women whose bodies were featured in the composite photo had consented to have their breasts posted on Twitter.
“Yes,” the Adidas account responded. “Our volunteers were amazing and brave.”
It added in another comment that, “We had to stick to the rules of social media but are proud to share the uncensored version here, on our website and on billboards.”
As for the readers who warned that they were reporting the image to Twitter, the Adidas account responded, “It’s perfectly natural to have breasts. We are happy to celebrate that and won’t be taking this down so we can keep doing so.”
More clothing retailers are embracing the body-positive movement. Victoria’s Secret scrapped its “Angels” and tapped U.S. Olympic soccer player Megan Rapinoe, body-positive advocate Paloma Elsesser and actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas as brand ambassadors to “build new, deeper relationships with all women” last summer. And Gap Inc.’s GPS, -0.58% Old Navy recently switched up its approach to plus-size apparel. It now offers every one of its women’s styles in all sizes, with no price differences.
Plus-size women’s and men’s clothing sales hit $27 billion in 2019, up from $19.9 billion in 2012, according to GlobalData. Women’s plus-sizes accounted for 19% of total women’s clothing sales in the U.S. for the 12 months ending May 2021, according to NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service, which was up one percentage point from the same time the previous year.
“We want to celebrate bodies in all their glory and proudly showcase how different we all are,” the Adidas Twitter account wrote under another critical comment.