High street store H&M praised for using curvy models
In a world where size zero women are the norm, the fashion industry has long been criticized for its unrealistic and unreflective representation of 'real' women. Step in H&M, which is being hailed this week for its refreshing and revolutionary new swimwear campaign.
The clothing retailer has taken the groundbreaking step of using US model Jennie Runk, a size 12, to advertise its latest beachwear line. What's more, the company has refused to label the collection 'plus-sized' in a move to promote the use of women with healthy proportions.
"Her section isn't labelled 'Plus-Size Beachwear' — it's just beachwear period," writes Jezebel's Jenna Sauers. With the only clue to the collections larger sizing a small '+' next the the H&M logo, she hopes this is a step towards normal-sized models being used as a matter of course, rather than categorized as 'plus-sized'.
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"I think it send a positive message about inclusivity and chaining standards of beauty to have a plus-sized girl all over the landing page www.hm.co/us/beachwear," she said. "Not /plussizebeachwear! Just /beachwear.
"Seeing plus-size bodies in fashion spread and ads should be as common as seeing anything else."
Since the collection went live, H&M have received universal praise. One lady posted an open letter on Jezebel's website, writing, "Thank you so much for using Jennie Runk as your beachwear page cover girl. That you did so without calling attention to her shape makes it all the more commendable.
"I love seeing a girl with my body type not only represented on your website, but represented without fanfare."
It will mean a great deal to model Jennie, who told Vogue Italia earlier this year, "I think separating between 'normal' and 'plus-size' is getting a little old fashioned."
In 2009, she said she was pleased to be seen as an example of "confident, happy and healthy" women at a size that is far closer to the national average.
"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.
"So much of advertising and fashion portrays only one kind of body, and that's super tall and super skinny. I think not only should there be more plus-sized models in fashion, there should also be more petite, pregnant, ethnic, etc.
"I think every woman should be represented equally — we're all beautiful in our own ways."