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German magazine Brigitte bans models for “real women”

6th October 2009

German magazine Brigitte bans models for “real women”

Brigitte magazine

In a move similar to that of Glamour, Germany’s most popular women’s magazine, Brigitte, announced that it will no longer use professional models in favor of “real women” in an attempt to combat an unhealthy standard of size-zero models its says has alienated readers.  Andreas Lebert, Brigitte’s editor-in-chief, said that the bimonthly magazine will, starting next year, feature a mix of prominent women and regular readers in photo spreads for everything from beauty to fashion to fitness.  Lebert said the move is in response to readers saying that they are tired of seeing “protruding bones” from models who weigh the same as a prepubescent girl.

But unlike Glamour, which has committed to featuring plus-size models, Brigitte isn’tgoing to become a magazine for plus-sizes,” said Lebert.   Because, “real women,” apparently, only come in sizes 4-12.  Read an English translation of the magazine’s call for models here.

You know who else uses “real people” in its ads?  Wal-Mart.  I hate to give any kudos to the union-busting retail bully who sells both women and the community it robs jobs from short, but I do have to admire the diverse everyday kinds of people it features in its print and television ads.  There was a print ad not too long ago for bras that featured a group of women a’ la Dove-style, but also included women who were old and wrinkled and actually plus-size.  The Nivea spot Wal-Mart is currently running on television shows a plus-size black woman and (who I assume to be) her husband sitting on the couch watching TV and eating popcorn.  The woman wears probably a U.S. size 20 at the least, and her husband can’t take his hands off of her.

The owner of one German modeling agency told The Associated Press that she believed Brigitte’s ban on models was simply a marketing gag that wouldn’t last once readers began clamoring again for “beautiful, aesthetically pleasing” people.  Yet Wal-Mart, with its regular people marketing blitz, trails only Exxon in annual revenues.  Sure, the demographics are different for Wal-Mart and Brigitte and people would continue shopping at Wal-Mart even if it did no advertising at all, but the fact remains that the super center dynamo knows both its clientele and how to best reach out to them — it doesn’t throw a half-billion-dollars a year at its advertising strategy for nothing — and it does this by thumbing its nose at the “advertising is aspirational” mantra with direct appeals to the Regular Joes and Janes who shop at its stores.  It’s this same appeal to consumers that motivated Glamour to diversify the models it features and that has now pushed Brigitte to move in the same direction.

What with Vogue’s public condemnation of fashion designers, the backlash received by SELF for digitally slimming Kelly Clarkson, the British Parliament debating regulation of airbrushed images, Glamour’s new commitment to body diversity and now Brigitte seeking out “real people” for its ads… it certainly seems like the dominoes have been set in motion. Here’s hoping they tumble rapidly.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 at 9:57 am and is filed under Advertisements, Body-Affirming, Fashion, Fat Acceptance, Fat Bias, Rachel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 19 responses to “German magazine Brigitte bans models for “real women””

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  1. 1 On October 6th, 2009, rachel with a little "r" said:

    um, how can a magazine choose “real women” over “professional models”? What is a professional model, if not a woman who gets her picture taken for magazines and receives monetary exchange for it?

  2. 2 On October 6th, 2009, Katja said:

    I have read Brigitte a little over the years (family lives in germany) and was impressed by the age diversity in the magazine, but don’t recall any size 12′s in there ever. It still has the pull-out 6 week diet plans that mostly focus on crisp bread and low-fat yogurt like substance called “Quark” of all things! It’s still way better than most magazines here. I always like as a younger woman that they had women model clothes of different careers, authors, PR folks, cooks, lawyers, etc. That was also a neat kind of diversity where you could think of being something other than a model. Just my two cents worth! We;ll see if they have any larger women…

  3. 3 On October 6th, 2009, Shannon Russell said:

    HAHA rachel with a little “r” made me laugh.

    Even if it is all just a PR scheme to capitalize on the publicity, its still helping break some standards. No beauty magazine will ever be what we would want it to be, but the fact that they are taking these baby steps is encouraging. Hopefully it is the start of a social shift of what “normal” means.

    Peace,
    Shannon

  4. 4 On October 6th, 2009, Ali P said:

    While I think these “real women” campaigns may show at least a step in the right direction by recognizing that a body of skin and bones us unhealthy, I’m left wondering if such campaigns make fat women (like me) even more excluded. I mean, size 20s and size 12s have often been able to come together in their scrutinizing of magazine models and possibly even laugh at the ridiculousness of the beauty ideal. But now, if the size 12s are being validated as “real women” and invited to identify with models, where does that leave the size 20s? It’s like the popular girls at school inviting your friend to be in their club, leaving you all alone.

    Thanks for all your thoughtful posts! I’m a long time blog-lurker trying to change my ways and actually participate in commenting/discussion. I enjoy your blog immensely and I always learn a lot!

  5. 5 On October 6th, 2009, The Bald Soprano said:

    I’m so tempted to submit photos of myself (size 24, German size 54, apple shaped), just to see what would happen. The call for models doesn’t mention any size limits….

    (BTW: Quark is a fresh, usually rennet-less (in Germany, anyway) cheese)

  6. 6 On October 6th, 2009, Rachel said:

    The call for models doesn’t mention any size limits….

    No, but you are required to give your height and measurements in the online submission process.

  7. 7 On October 6th, 2009, The Bald Soprano said:

    Yes, I did notice that, Rachel, which makes me think I’d be rejected, but I am still tempted to see what would happen. And I could complain at being rejected based on there not being any size limits listed.

  8. 8 On October 6th, 2009, Sarah said:

    HAHA rachel with a little “r” made me laugh.

    Yeah, me too. It’s not like profession models will be hurting for work because they can’t get into Brigitte magazine anymore! They still have the entire fashion industry behind them!

  9. 9 On October 6th, 2009, Rachel said:

    What is a professional model, if not a woman who gets her picture taken for magazines and receives monetary exchange for it?

    I see your point, but I consider a professional model to be one who is trained and who derives all or most of his/her income from modeling. Professional models also tend to have agents and command much higher wages than your everyday woman, so, this is also a smart fiscal move by Brigitte.

  10. 10 On October 6th, 2009, Blimp said:

    Who wants to be a model? Who wants to be fashionable? It’s all hype. A model is someone who sells his or her soul. It doesn’t matter how much the model is paid, nor how desperately the model needs money; the model sells for too little. A human soul is priceless.

  11. 11 On October 6th, 2009, Bethface said:

    I am happy that these steps are being taken. I can’t help but wait from the response from the other side though. For Mimi Roth and the many like her to come out saying how these magazines are now helping this country get a little fatter. Because us fatties are destroying the American way of life. Didn’t you know.

  12. 12 On October 6th, 2009, JupiterPluvius said:

    Size 0 women are also “real”, as are size 14 women and size 24 women.

    Saying “Models who wear sizes X through Y better represent our readership” would be one way of announcing a change in policy without stigmatizing any other group of women.

  13. 13 On October 6th, 2009, Lindsey said:

    Let’s hope this is for real…. Glamour’s use of “real women” is more like a marketing strategy to sell mags

  14. 14 On October 6th, 2009, Lillian said:

    Many women are excluded from modeling because they’re short. I suspect all the ‘real women’ that they choose will be tall. It would be nice to see petite clothes modeled by short women. Online catalogs mention that they have petites, but one never sees how the clothes will look on a short woman. Clothes don’t look the same on the woman that is 5′ 10″ as they look on a woman 5′ 2″. Petite woman are a large market that is almost completely ignored. There are fashion magazines for plus size woman, but I have yet to see one for smaller women.

  15. 15 On October 6th, 2009, rachel with a little "r" said:

    “On October 6th, 2009, Rachel said:

    What is a professional model, if not a woman who gets her picture taken for magazines and receives monetary exchange for it?

    I see your point, but I consider a professional model to be one who is trained and who derives all or most of his/her income from modeling. Professional models also tend to have agents and command much higher wages than your everyday woman, so, this is also a smart fiscal move by Brigitte.”

    I know what you mean; it wasn’t so much directed at you as the magazine…just because they are allowing women to model for them who they wouldn’t have considered before doesn’t really mean they’re not using “models”…and it’s not as though any plain old average woman would do; these women are being carefully selected against other women, so…in my mind, it really isn’t ordinary women…that was what I was thinking when I read it.

  16. 16 On October 7th, 2009, Kristen said:

    No, but you are required to give your height and measurements in the online submission process.

    But why do you take that to mean that only women in size 4-12 are welcome? I just assumed that are looking for a diverse range of woman.

  17. 17 On October 8th, 2009, Rachel said:

    @Kristen: I inferred that from the mag’s editor-in-chief, who was quick to reassure that Brigitte is not “going to become a magazine for plus-sizes.” Plus-sizes are generally considered in the U.S. to be sizes 14 and above.

  18. 18 On October 8th, 2009, Meryt Bast said:

    Though I appreciate the motivation behind “real women” campaigns, I wish that these “real women” would be photographed as artistically as the size-0 models are.

  19. 19 On October 11th, 2009, Veganka said:

    That’s a good news for those women who dreamed to become a model even though they have a plus size body. This comes a new era of modeling; a more genuine and realistic kind of people. A very good concept that young ones could follow- to be yourself.

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