H&M, you’re doing it right.
I did a strange thing today. I read a women’s fashion magazine. I never normally do this, but someone had left it on the train behind them, and the book I’m reading at the moment requires a lot of brain power and I wasn’t in the mood for brain power. I was in the mood for oreos and Star Trek, but you can’t stream Netflix on the train… So reading the magazine seemed logical. I say “read”, but really, I mean “flick”. It was so full of superfluous and vacuous shit that I couldn’t actually bear to “read” most of the “content”. As usual though, I was struck by the ubiquitous thinness of the models, and the over-sexualising of them.
Now, I’ve tried to be more careful recently about how I talk about the whole body-image-in-the-media issue. I think it’s been talked about pretty well to death, and I do think things are improving. I understand that fashion companies release their samples in tiny sizes, and that certain clothes will simply look and hang better on thinner women. But SURELY there’s a whole heap of clothes that HAVE to look better on bigger women? By bigger women, I’m not talking about any particular size, I just mean women who are bigger than the industry standard size 4 and 6 (UK). That’s not favouritism or anything, it’s just statistics.
I would hazard a guess that most of my close friends would be around the ten/twelve mark when it comes to dress size. There’s no particular reason for that, they just are. Now, I have friends who are certainly larger than that, and certainly smaller than that. If 7 of us were to go and try on the same dress in our own size, it’s likely that one of us is going to look better than the rest in that particular dress. Try the same experiment for 20 dresses and it’s likely that each of us will have a dress that fits us better and looks better than the others. It’s just simple math. So, industry, what is this horseshit of picking only one size to model and advertise your dresses? Ya’ll need to hire new statisticians.
I want to make it very clear that I don’t have any problem with women who are thin. They’re lovely. We’re all lovely. I collapse into fits of rage when I see photographs of size 14 and 16 women being referred to as “real women”. What in the name of Zeus makes them any more real than a woman who is a size 6? We’re all “real”, thanks very much. I’m not saying that all ads should have women who are a size twelve or above. That seems to be the impression given by a lot of campaigns calling for magazines to address the size issue. In reality, it would be just as ridiculous for ads to feature bigger ladies only. All we want is a bit of variety. The same variety that we see when we look around at the women we’re friends with and related to. We’re all completely different shapes and sizes, and none of us deserve any less or more media space than the other.
This blog is prompted by a jezebel article I read about H&M. H&M have, on their homepage at the moment, an absolutely stunning model called Jennie Runk, modelling their beachwear range. Not in the plus size section, just beachwear. They haven’t made a big deal out of it, there was no ridiculous press-release announcing that they had decided to use a curvier model. That’s another thing that defeats the purpose of using a bigger model. If a magazine is going to use a model that looks different to the rest, and feels the need to say “LOOK! LOOK WHAT WE DID! WE DID WHAT YOU ASKED; TURN TO PAGE 42 TO SEE THE SIZE 16 MODEL IN THIS ISSUE!”, then they’re just making asses of themselves. She’s just there, on their homepage, modelling their clothes like the rest of the models, and looking ridiculously hot, as the rest of them do. And that’s what’s so brilliant about it; it’s just the way things should be. Mmmm, ladies….