5.5

I Don’t Look Like Kate Moss (& Neither Do These Models).

People who look nothing like Kate Moss exist in the world and I’m one of them.

And hey, I like to buy clothes, too.

Debenhams, a British department store, is catching onto the fact that the vast majority of their customers are not runway models, and are now catering to a wider array of bodies within their latest advertisements—you know, people who actually shop at Debenhams.

Sidenote: representing a very small portion (no pun intended) of a fashion departments key demographic by using thin, young runway models has always seemed counterintuitive to me. Advertisements are supposed to speak to their entire audience, and I doubt thin, young  runway models were the only ones shopping at Debenhams before this new catalog’s arrival. 

In a  post on Debenham’s blog, they remarked on their recent promotion of a more body-positive space, stating: “By becoming the first high street retailer in the UK to promote its latest fashion collections by using models in a diverse variety of ages, sizes and looks—the imagery in our ‘High Summer Look Book’ turns its back on the industry norm of young thin models.”

Bravo.

No, seriously, I applaud them for depicting reality within their advertisements, for going against the grain of mainstream fashion—however, I can’t help but feel a bit sad at the fact that this is so avante garde.

Why is it so outlandish to depict real people wearing clothes?

I’ve never understood this. I doubt I ever will.

However, avante garde or not, I hope Debenham’s marketing campaign spreads like wildfire and that we see more people depicted within fashion catalogs, and on the runways of tomorrow, celebrating the diverse and beautiful forms our human bodies can take. 

Ready to see more than one kind of body representing the human race? Here’s a sampling of the photographs featured in Debenham’s 2013 “High Summer Look Book” catalogue:

 

 

Pretty inspiring, right? A group of models that highlight and celebrate the human form in all its unique beauty.

I should probably stop here, leaving everyone feeling hopeful and inspired, but I can’t. 

I feel compelled to point out something very important about Debenham’s recent move towards depicting a wider array of body types—it’s not a major brand overhaul, it was a catalogue, maybe two. This department store that boasts, “We received a Body Confidence Award (2012 winner)—for our on-going ‘Inclusivity Campaign’ showcasing imagery that is inspirational and, most importantly, realistic,” still primarily features young, thin models on their website. (But baby steps are better than no steps at all, I suppose.)

Moving our society into a more body positive space is imperative. In my opinion, the negative way we treat the body in our mainstream society—policing it through advertisements, through images of photoshopped perfection, through the glorification of “beautiful people”—is an issue of human rights. The right to feel free in our own bodies is being infringed upon daily through our mainstream societies limited view of what a body should be, and it has to stop.

 

 

 

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Ed: Sara Crolick

{catalog photos: via  Debenham’s}

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Nov 24, 2013 5:03pm

Hi Ellen,

I just wrote a post discussing my use of "real" in the above article at: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/11/thin-peopl…. I agree that the term "real" might have been misconstrued in this post.

Best,
Laura

ellen Nov 24, 2013 2:17pm

Overall I appreciate this article. The term 'real women' 'real people' as other thank skinny needs to be wiped from the language — at least for anyone who wants a positive body space for all people. To the person complaining about 'amputees feeling exploitive' — well disability is part of the diversity of humanity .And to me it only looks exploitive as portraying people with 'disabilities' – not my favourite term either — as loving clothes is so rare in media so it stands out. . For many people with physical challenges, having other see their identity framed first and foremost by 'disability' means people sometimes stop seeing them as whole persons — so the more representation gets in the media in the general way the better as far as I can tell.

Becca Nov 9, 2013 7:11am

Although I applaud the use of models who reflect a more realistic view of women’s bodies, why isn’t this author equally upset by the use of amputees as models? They are a MUCH smaller demographic than women who are young and skinny and hardly represent the norm. Using amputees feels a bit exploitative to me….a feeble attempt at saying “look athow cutting edge we are”

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Laura Ashworth

Laura Ashworth currently lives in Richmond, Virginia. She’s a mermaid at heart and thus her passion for barren, waterless landscapes often confounds her. She welcomes new friends. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, or on her fictional humor blog about a fledgling magazine, Spugnacious.