Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Are Size 16 Models a Step Too Far?

Blog Post by Jeremy Waite,

I recently read this interesting artice by Jeremy, and I thought some of you might like to have a read as well.

"When you've got charm, size doesn't matter". Crystal Renn
Vogue’s model of the moment, size 16 super model Crystal Renn, is spearheading the launch the new Italian on-line magazine, Vogue Curvy. Initially I was fascinated and excited about the launch of their brave new venture, but the more I think about it, the more I think we are being sold half a story without seeing the full picture.

Personally, I find curves much more attractive than stick thin super models. I recently wrote about Kate Moss, but because of her talent and longevity, not because of her shape. I’ve never been a fan of heroin-chic, so I’m as guilty as anyone of celebrating ‘real women’ on the covers of fashion magazines or in advertising campaigns, but I also seem to have missed the ‘real story’.

Size 16 'Supermodel' Crystal Renn
“As a size 16 model, Crystal Renn is over-weight. It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘size zero argument’, but the UK has a much bigger problem with obesity and over-eating than it does with anorexia. It is far more important for the media to promote healthy models”. (Jessica Lovell, Nutritional Therapist & Wellness Coach)

Chatting to Jessica today made me realise that whilst it is admirable to showcase curvy women, there is a difference between curvy women and unhealthy women. It’s a provocative argument, but is it unhealthy to be larger than a size 16 – or is the plus size argument just the media going to the other extreme of the ‘size zero’ debate? The argument came up again today when American tv networks banned the new Lane Bryant ad for showing too many curves. Now, I don’t blame Lane Bryant, Bravissimo or Simply Yours for making a profitable living out of selling to plus-size women, but I do think there is a much bigger issue at stake here…

In the UK, nearly 2 in every 100 secondary school girls suffer from anorexia or bulimia BUT 27% of young women are over-weight or obese. [STATS]

The Beth Ditto Issue
Does it help a magazine to put a plus size model on its cover? Of course it does. LOVE Magazine had one of the most successful media launches in recent years, thanks to the huge amount of PR they received by putting a 15 stone (naked) Beth Ditto on the cover.

It all seems a perfect example of what can happen when news stories and corporate campaigns get caught up in media hype. Whilst Unilever’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty‘ continues to be a fantastic campaign, their media coverage has spawned hundreds of other promotions featuring plus size models, many of which do feature over-weight models. A recent study proved this by discovering that 250 high street shoppers thought anorexia was a significantly larger health risk than obesity, even though scientifically it is nowhere near as much of a health threat than anorexia.

The lesson here for business owners and brand managers is not to be seduced by headlines. ‘Jumping on the band wagon’ is an over used cliché, but you might want to dig a little bit deeper before basing your next campaign on a provocative trend, headline statistic or news feature. Searching out the truth behind the story will often provide you with a completely different angle. It may also inspire you to create a much more original and effective campaign entirely.

I completely agree and support Jeremy's perspective. Beauty is the eye of the beholder, and like art, is subjective to the viewer.

Your thoughts?


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