Talk about redemption. It was only a little over a year ago that H&M got hammered for putting real heads on computer generated fake models with ridiculously perfect bodies to sell their bathing suits. Now, H&M is being applauded for not only using plus-size model Jennie Runk in their swimwear campaign, but for doing it quietly.
In the past, when a retailer featured a plus size woman in a campaign there would be all this hoopla that came with it, in a, “look at us, we embrace and love fatties!” patronizing sort of way. Instead of bridging the gap, these efforts often widened it by segregating larger women instead of just including them in the fold and would just make the retailer look sleazy and self-serving at the expense of larger women.
As a curvier woman, I’ve been pleading for this type of marketing to women with curves on this blog for years, which you can see here as well as here. Like most women with big boobs, ample thighs and a brain, I never liked the way the curvy woman was catered to and all I ever wanted to see was diversity. I never needed the help of a retailer or designer to help me accept myself, and, as an ongoing advocate for positive body image, I always distrustfully questioned the authenticity.
As serious as the issue of body diversity has been, sometimes, all it often takes is one move towards change to start a movement, and it is my hope that with the “no big deal” attitude that H&M has taken with their plus size swimwear campaign that we start to see others follow suit, and the diversity of women’s bodies in media will become the norm, not the exception.