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H&M Lead The Way With Plus Size Model

The fashion industry has come under a great deal of scrutiny in recent years concerning the use of size zero models for runway shows and unnaturally tall and thin mannequins in shop windows. However, there has also been a great deal of media coverage on the use of ‘plus sized’ models by mainstream brands and the introduction of realistic dummies to model clothing. Is this soon to become the norm or is fashion always going to come with the pressure of being skinny?

The recruitment of US ‘plus sized model’ Jennie Runk for H&M’s swimwear range generated a great deal of attention due to the fact that she was actually asked to gain weight for the photo shoot. In an interview with the BBC, she talks about how the company gave the option to either lose weight to become a UK size 6-8 or gain a little to become a UK size 12-14. She also notes the positive feedback she has received from the public, with some women thanking her for inspiring them to brave a bikini for the first time in years. This story demonstrates what the power of using ‘real women’ in modelling can achieve. As the average size of women in the US and UK are both around a UK 16, why shouldn’t companies use models that are much closer to their size?

However, while we hear success stories in some areas of the fashion world, the attitude that ‘plus sized’ is ugly still strongly exists elsewhere. In his recent viral video, Greg Karber highlights that the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch refuses to sell womens clothes in sizes larger than a US size 10 (UK size 12) as he only wants ‘thin and beautiful’ people to wear his brand.

While it is understandable that different clothing companies have different target audiences, surely it is wrong and offensive to claim that anyone above a size 12 is not ‘thin’ or ‘beautiful’? This can horribly skew society’s perception as to what is ‘normal’ and it is these skewed perceptions that can lead to eating disorders, depression and bullying.

However, despite some cases, it is clear that there is great support for the use of more realistic models and mannequins in fashion. In 2010, a photo of true to life dummies used in a Swedish department store went viral, with over 65,000 Facebook likes and counting. This has been mirrored in the UK with Marks and Spencers and John Lewis stores introducing UK size 14 mannequins onto their shop floors.

While it may never become universal, the use of realistically sized models is definitely becoming more of the norm in the fashion world. Hopefully the change in attitude will also reflect on women and their perceptions of themselves. 

To read more about the controversial Abercrombie & Fitch policy, check out http://www.hercampus.com/schoo…

Image Credits: bbc.co.uk, guestofaguest.com

Hello! I'm Jess, avid writer, full of grand travel plans and slightly addicted to chai. As well as writing for HerCampus (and singing loudly in the shower) I run my own blog at www.mismatchedknitwear.com where I talk about my day-to-day life, post lots of filtered photographs and talk about food a lot. Somehow this got me into the finals of the Cosmo Blog Awards 2013. I don't know either... 
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