The Big (Photo) Shop of Horrors: Drowning in Skinny Plastic Figures


-Emily Fraysse

H&M has hired a real, human model who has a real, live, “normal” human body.

The model, Jennie Runk, happens to be a size 12.

Often scrutinized by the media for editing or creating computer-generated models, the Swedish Goliath retail store, H&M, features a “plus-size” model for their new swimwear line.

Posing in the season’s summer wear was a refreshing face and body when it comes to H&M’s past modeling disasters. The media went nuts for the “big news” and, supposedly, size 12 mannequins were being used in certain retail locations.  Brushing it off like it was no big deal, the company made no press announcement or any other hint that they were doing it. They just decided one day to stick her in there with the rest of the skinny girls.

“Our aim is not to convey a certain message or show an ideal,” H&M spokeswoman Jennifer Ward tells Quartz, “but to find a model who can illustrate this collection in an inspiring and clear way.” But, it was not necessarily the company’s intention to showcase “real women.” Initially, they rejected the idea when they were collaborating with Versace in 2011.

I needed to see what all this fuss was about, so I hopped onto the H&M website. The first photo on the main page: Beyoncé. A little lower on the page and I see the smokin’ bod of David Beckham. So, where is Jennie Runk? I go to Women’s swimwear. Nothing. At the very bottom of the left hand column is the “H+M Size 14-24.” Ah, there she is. Only one photo. Was she originally on the homepage and then got taken down due to the amount of publicity and backlash? Or was it just the ever-so fast-paced seasons that bumped her to one of the pages deeper in the site? I mean, technically summer hasn’t even hit yet, so shouldn’t she be there promoting the new swimwear line?

Well H&M, I applaud your sly move of promoting “real women” by hiding her on the site. Real, great marketing has taken hold of what is seen in the mainstream fashion. I guess we just made it out to be a bigger deal than H&M intended and, consequently, diminished the point of trying to subtly feature her in the first place. Maybe it is the public and media’s fault for making this out to be a huge deal, or maybe, with the history the company has with Photoshop, the public was astonished by the transition into the reality of the real bodies of women.

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