Honors Program

Honors in Business

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Dr. Kelly G. Atkins, Dr. Dana L. Harrison

Thesis Professor Department

Management and Marketing

Thesis Reader(s)

Dr. Reza Maihami


Marketing strategies are changing how businesses sell their products. The body positivity movement is causing consumers to examine companies to determine if their intentions are authentic. Some of the ways consumers evaluate company authenticity include examining corporate social responsibility reports, types of advertising, or the brand-cause fit between the company and the body positivity movement. The author of this study followed two companies (Dove and Aerie) that are known for body positive advertising messages and two companies (Mattel/Barbie and Victoria Secret) that are known for promoting unrealistic body expectations. The author examined each companies’ mission statement, annual report, and types of media being used to determine whether the companies were doing what they say they are doing. The researchers found that Dove and Aerie demonstrated company values consistent with their body positivity campaigns; however, both had opportunities to increase their emphasis on inclusion and diversity in their advertising campaigns and media presence. Mattel and Victoria’s Secret had inclusive and diverse campaigns and media presence but focused on empowerment of women rather than body positivity. In the final analysis, Aerie had the most consistency between its brand and its body positivity campaigns. Further, the author found that Aerie’s campaigns promoted true body positivity with models of various ethnicities, sizes, disabilities, and illnesses. Aerie has raised the bar for companies joining the body positivity movement by encouraging women to accept the “imperfect” bodies they were born with. This study has academic and industry contributions due to the comparative analyses of the body positivity marketing campaigns of American-owned brands. The results could inform companies of their strengths and areas of opportunity in consumer perceptions of brand authenticity and could provide direction for future studies focused on body positivity marketing.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Marketing Commons