H&M: Companies using ‘Real Women’ as models

There has been a re-release of the uproar surrounding the ‘Real Women’ debate on the blogosphere of late,  (for examples see here  here and here!). I’ve written on this subject in the past, but today I saw a story which has made me double-take.

H&M’s ‘completely virtual’ swimwear models are an all-new extreme of ‘body snark’; with models who really aren’t ‘Real Women’ being used to display the products. The creepy mannequin-like faces and uncannily realistic bodies are a bit of a slap in the face to body acceptance activists as they go full circle on the ‘Real Women’ debate which has indeed gone a little too far now.

But are we going backwards in the bid towards acceptance of diversity in the world of advertising and media?

H&M press officer Håcan Andersson argued in Aftonbladet,  that H&M’s decision to move its modeling away from actual human bodies isn’t irresponsible:

It’s not about ideals or to show off a perfect body… we are doing this to show off the garments.

But in order to see how a garment will really look on is it not best to see it on another human body? Sure, H&M’s arguably diplomatic response to the ‘Real Women’ debate is a very noble in the sense that it recognises the equality of the body by taking us back to mannequins, however I see this as somewhat counter-productive in the movement towards diversity and body acceptance. Can we not finally draw a line under this ideal of the ‘perfect body’?

In this respect I can completely agree with the statement:

Women “want it to fit, they want it to shape and they want it to make them look and feel gorgeous. So this needs to reflect in the model… – Vanity Killed The Cat

However, I do believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and a woman is a woman, be she a AA or a FF. The model simply needs to be ‘real’.

I do want to see lingerie modelled on a ‘Real Woman’, but perhaps not in the traditional sense of the phrase; A heart beat would be a good start.

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6 Replies to “H&M: Companies using ‘Real Women’ as models”

  1. For me (english isn’t my first language) the term “real woman” always ment “real” as in “alive, not a fictional product brought to us by photoshop programming”.

    The term real woman doesn’t mention anything recording size, height, weight or even curves.

    A woman, alive and breathing, will always be a “real woman” to me.

    The H&M Ad is… horrible. It’s like putting different heads to a doll.
    For me this doesn’t represent “real women” ( although the Mannequins OF COURSE are real women) but they don’t exist in this shape the advert shows us.

    So yes, me too, I want to see real women in media ads.

    greets from austria,


  2. I’ve seen the H&M ads before but paid them no attention because I know they don’t sell my size. Looking at them properly I’m absolutely horrified.

    Sure, shops use mannequins to advertise, but mannequins are used in lieu of real people where it is not practical to have a model. In addition, mannequins are supposed to mimic the human body and show us what clothing would look like on a real human – otherwise shops would just put clothes on hangers in their windows. The argument for having all body shapes represented in advertising is therefore equally applicable to mannequins!

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