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Friday, February 3, 2012

Models Today

Today’s models project what kind of image? Often times, when I am flipping through magazines, I scratch my head. Not from an itchy scalp, obviously, but from the magazine’s choice of models. Often I compare Elle to Vogue or In Style, then Good Housekeeping to First for Women or O.

Very different demographics, but again what is the reality of what are they really saying with their model selection? I love this story, so let me recap. Katie Halchishick is a 26 year old model. She started modeling at 17 years old for agencies like Wilhelmina and Ford as a plus size model. Plus size models are generally a size 14. Which in my mind isn't actually plus size at all, but life size for a lot of people.

Katie started dating a body builder, and no big surprise, lost 50 pounds and got down to a size 8. Unfortunately, that left her with few interested clients to model for. There’s apparently not a market for a size 8 model. She was then told by agencies that if she got down to a size 4, she would pick up more work. If not, the agencies wanted her to wear fat suits with padding to bulk up for her remaining modeling commitments. Basically, she was out of a job.

Since she did not want to wither down to a size 4, she finished up her contracts and opened her own agency, called Natural Model Management. Her mission was to promote "healthy as the new skinny". The agency offers models in non-traditional or “straight” sizes of 6-10. The agency also states that Natural values models and their natural build and body size and encourage models to find a healthy balance in life and in their bodies. Sing that story, sister!

The conflict for me comes in a recent controversial editorial that appeared on the online Plus Model Magazine where straight size models where shown embracing wearing pads and fat suits. What kind of message is that sending? Regular size models being padded to look heavier?

Some retailers are doing a better job with using straight size models, like JC Penney. JCP has realized their buyer is more likely to be a curvier size 10 than size 2. The curious thing for me is the question of when are big box retailers and magazines going to start using size 6-10 size models instead of size 2?

I think television commercials, whether it is household products or lifestyle products, are doing a better job with it than print commercials. I am not sure that has always been the case, but have you noticed that people on commercials are looking more "normal" and the actors not always so pretty?

Several years ago, Dove launched a beauty campaign for and about real women. Remember seeing women of all size and races, beautiful from the inside and out? Although a highly successful campaign, it has been interesting that other companies have not followed suit. As our country continues to fight the challenge of obesity, I am wondering if we will ever see the likes of a size 8 Kate Moss making an impact in the fashion world. What do you think?

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