“It felt like the right time to do it, and right for us, really,” says Jules Barton-Breck, editor of Essentials. The October issue of her magazine, already on sale, is claimed to be a UK first – a glossy that’s entirely model- and celebrity-free.
Despite the fanfare, rejecting models and celebrities in favour of “realness” is nothing new. Dove launched its Campaign For Real Beauty in 2004, using “real” women in its ads, and tying them in to a global awareness-raising project of promoting female body-acceptance. Debenhams now bans airbrushing in its swimwear ad campaigns, claiming the aim is “to help customers make the most of their beauty without bombarding them with unattainable body images”.
Marc Jacobs, one of the world’s most successful design labels, is set to become the first major fashion houses to produce a clothing line catering for women bigger than size 14.
Although there is yet to be an official announcement, Robert Duffy, president of the Marc Jacobs label, wrote about the move on Twitter, confirming that the company was in the early stages of discussions to produce a plus-size range. He said that it would be a year before the line was available.
“We are in talks now. For plus sizes,” Duffy tweeted. “Listen, we are in the very beginning stages of talking to a partner about plus sizes.” He also revealed the problems he has buying clothes. “I’m a big guy 6ft 4in, 210 lbs. [It’s] not easy for me to find clothes,” he wrote. “Of course I can have them made. I know how everyone feels. I try to diet but… I don’t like the phrase plus-sizes. Any suggestions?
Another day means another debate about the use of “real women” against thin women in the fashion industry. This ongoing dispute is long and complicated; it’s not the fashion industries intention to promote an unhealthy lifestyle or eating disorders, thin models are used because they are there to sell the clothes (or whatever the product is). Longer, thinner limbs photograph better, and sticklike figures means the designer can concentrate on his creation and artwork rather than making the clothes look flattering on that woman.
Alexander McQueen has said that if he could have hangers floating down the runway he wouldn’t use models again. The point is that “real women” aren’t supposed to look like models. Models don’t even look like models; there’s so much re-touching and make-up application, they’re just like any other “normal” thin girl you know.
On the other side, having these extremely thin women dressed glamorously in advertisements, and appearing to have it all, is going to be aspirational to some. Seeing this same message used constantly will lead women to think that if they are thin then they’ll be happy.