H&M-Bigger Beach Babe

H&M, as every large fashion clothing distributor, is constantly criticized for using impossibly thin models. Back in 2010, they were put on blast for these series of print ads:

Model 1
Model 1
Model 2?
Model 2?

Model 3??
Model 3??

Notice anything STRANGE?

Could it be that each one of these models looks exactly like the other? Well these models are not just similar, they are the EXACT same body! In order to save time and money, H&M created a digital body archetype and then cut and pasted different models heads on each one, then matched skin tone. Not the type of modeling I’m sure they signed up for. Well this excessive use of CGI-ed modeling sparked quite the discussion. Rosie Barker, a writer for MarketingWeek.com, stated in response to the online campaign:

“It’s obviously not the intention [of H&M], it’s more a cost and time saving strategy to get its products online for ecommerce, but at a time when advertising images are being scrutinized and their impact on women’s body image analysed, it sends the message that real women aren’t good enough. And that is offensive...H&M has a responsibility, like all retailers and brands, to get real and give its customers some credit by showing them that they are good enough for its products. That its clothes will make them look and feel good in the real world.”

This is not H&M’s first offense, it is one of many.

"Drop Dead Skinny" campaign (actual name) was shot down by Watchdogs
“Drop Dead Skinny” campaign (actual name) was shot down by Watchdogs

But wait! What’s that! It’s a bird! No a plane! Oh hot damn it’s a Woman in Human Form!

Work it Girl
Work it Girl
The New Beachwear
The New Beachwear

FINALLY, in reaction to past criticisms and backlash, H&M has seen the light…or hired a clever PR & Marketing team. What better way to mend the broken image of woman than (drum roll): A REAL WOMAN.

H&M hired American Jennie Runk, a size 12, to be their new model for their new beach and summer line. NOT their plus size line, their normal beachwear. The praises rain/reign.

It's a New Season
It’s a New Season

Jennie Runk is proud of what she has been able to be a part of.

“We’re trying to create a movement for every woman to love and embrace her body no matter what kind of body she has,” Jennie told StyleList. “I think every woman should be represented equally — we’re all beautiful in our own ways.”

How cute.

How does one of the largest, “Go Skinny or Go Home” advertisers feel about that?

H&M is silent. Interesting. In an interview with Quartz.com, H&M spokeswoman

Jennifer Ward states: “Our aim is not to convey a certain message or show an ideal, but to find a model who can illustrate this collection in an inspiring and clear way.”

H&M ad in 1980s
H&M ad in 1980s

Or to save your company and your image.

H&M cannot gloat on this success. If they do they would admit that they have perpetuated an “ideal” body image to women. They would have been the kid yelling, “Look mom! Look what I did! Look how good I am!” And mother world shouldn’t care, but we do.By remaining quiet, H&M is trying to brand themselves as “body blind” since the beginning of their time in 1947.

 Yeah right. ————> 

It shouldn’t be news that a normal sized girl was featured in a non-plus sized swimsuit article. But it is. Because we are all still that superficial. Even me writing this blog entry about this “accomplishment” (or something), is perpetuating that our idea of body image is off, shifted, broken and wrong.

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