Plus-size models? Check. Disabled models? Check.
Remember earlier this year, when Abercombie & Fitch’s CEO Mike Jeffries announced that he “doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store?” (Elizabeth wrote a great post about it!) Debenhams — a department store chain in the UK, Ireland, and Denmark — aimed for the opposite in its inclusive and body-positive “High Summer Look Book” this year. The company’s blog states:
“Here at Debenhams we believe that anyone can look fabulous in our range — which is why we’ve decided to break with convention.”
And break with convention they did! When we think of diverse models, we might initially think of models of different ethnicities, or different sizes.
Debenhams’s Look Book is even more inclusive than that, with not only multi-ethnic, plus-size and petite models, but also models of different ages (including one aged 69) and abilities (including a paralympian athlete).
Their PR director, Ed Watson, even said, “Hopefully these shots will be a step, albeit a small one, towards more people feeling more comfortable about their bodies.” Take that, Mike Jeffries!
This isn’t the first time Debenhams has made good body-positive strides, either. In 2010, their stores displayed size 16 mannequins, hired a model who uses a wheelchair, and banned airbrushing in a swimsuit campaign.
They don’t have stores in the United States, where I live — more’s the pity. But there are other options for those of us living stateside who want to spend our clothing dollars at stores that use inclusive and body-positive advertising.
H&M featured a plus-size model in their mainstream beachwear collection this past summer, and Nordstrom’s — which has been employing disabled models for decades — included a paraplegic woman who uses a wheelchair in their 2012 ads.
Abercrombie & Fitch, it looks like you and your elitist attitudes are being left behind.
Sasha Albert holds a Master’s degree in Gender and Sexuality from the University of Amsterdam, and participates in reproductive health and justice activism in the Boston area.