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’t “going 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.