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Old 15th January 2011   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Courtney: Canopy of Emerald

In our recent thread about Courtney Legare (née Courtney Hanneman)'s stunning video submission for Lane Bryant's "Curvy Revolution" runway contest, we noted that several of the behind-the-scenes clips showed the model posting for still photographs. We are now pleased to share a few of the results of that photo session.

First is a striking headshot, with Courtney (a.k.a. "C.J. Legare") adopting an even, penetrating gaze. The sunlight illuminates her green eyes and gives them a translucent clarity. Observe how the foliage in the background picks up this green colour, and how both emerald hues, the darker verdure and the light-green eyes, contrast richly with the model's auburn hair. The stray tress wandering over her shoulder is a lovely touch.

Click to enlarge

Another headshot shows the greenery illuminated by the sun, giving it the transcendental light that we noted in many fine images in our "Natural Ideal" post. Courtney's expression is an appropriate soft, dreamy, faraway gaze. Observe the sensual detail of the dimples at the model's knuckles, as well as the more generous view of her buxom decolletage. Both the lush fertility of nature and the blooming curves of the model are in concert in this evocation of natural beauty.

Click to enlarge

The most attractive image in the entire test, though, is this behind-the-scenes picture showing the photographer capturing the model's essence. Her pose plays up the bountiful curvaceousness of her opulent size-18/20 figure, from the rondeur of her hips, to her voluptuous attributes, to the fullness of her legs. The sunlit greenery crowns her in a canopy of emerald boughs, while the blossoming hedge below adds a dash of feminine flora.

Click to enlarge

A close-up of the model's portion of the image shows the effectiveness of her pose, which creates an S-curve shape that emphasizes her womanliness. It also demonstrates the benefits of the wrap dress as a style for plus-size women, since the fabric clings to the model's every contour, defining her abundant proportions, while offering a heady view of her decolletage. It's one thing for a model to be a luscious size 18/20; it's another for her to sufficiently appreciate her own physique to want to show it off, and to have the technical modelling facility to do so in such a persuasive manner.

Click to enlarge

We end off with one final headshot showing a marvellously gentle smile from the model. The hair and setting display an appealing colour contrast, as noted before. The pose is alluring, but still chic and not showy. One even sees the attractive detail of a subtle curve under the chin--another trait that distinguishes the beauty of true plus-size models.

Click to enlarge

Courtney's adeptness at runway walking was evidently demonstrated in her Lane Bryant submission video, as well in as the behind-the-scenes and outtake clips that we recently posted. These stills, on the other hand, reconfirm her facility as a print model. Let us hope that Lane Bryant selects her to appear at the Curvy Convention, to show everyone how attractive and stylish size-18/20 women (who embody what should be the baseline size of all plus-size models) can be.

(Click images to view larger.)

- Courtney's Lane Bryant submission video

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Old 15th January 2011   #2
Join Date: March 2006
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 71
Default Re: Courtney: Canopy of Emerald

She's such a beautiful lady. I love how you can see the weight displayed in her face by means of a curve under the chin. It's good to see a woman this size modeling such a wonderful wrap dress. Wrap dresses are very feminine, in my opinion, and made specifically to hug curves. The bigger the better. To see a woman this curvy modeling one lets those of us who are plus-size know how we might look in such a dress.

I hope she is chosen to appear at the convention. She's an excellent example of plus-size beauty.
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Old 26th January 2011   #3
Join Date: July 2005
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Default Re: Courtney: Canopy of Emerald

In the final accounting of the Curvy Revolution/Lane Bryant contest, Courtney took the second-runner-up spot.

Such a showing is certainly to be applauded, considering that Mrs. Legare's video was one of literally hundreds from around the nation. Apparently, however, there has been something of a dust-up over the results. A friend of Courtney's named Ragen Chastain comments on the matter on her Web log. A few points emerge with considerable force. For example, the outcry from upset participants has been so vocal that the company has had to publicly address the matter:

Lane Bryant says that it’s not their fault. They outsourced the final decision to a modeling agency.

This is unfathomable. Why would a company running a contest under its own name outsource the decision? Most agencies are known for restricting themselves to faux-plus girls--the kind of models who anger and upset full-figured customers. Why would Lane Bryant allow modelling agents, many of whom are known to be anything but size-positive, to make the decision in a contest that it ran under its own banner?

Worse, by not specifying the agency or the individual who made the final decision, LB leaves no one accountable for the action. It "passes the buck" . . . to no one. This is understandably infuriating to the women who participated in the contest.

But the other points that Chastain makes in her Web log makes are even more criticial. She compares Courtney, with her luscious size-18/20 figure, to the faux-plus models whom Lane Bryant currently uses. In a particularly devastating side-by-side graphic, she juxtaposes a current Lane Bryant so-called "plus-size" model with a straight-size model from another company. Appallingly, the two models look identical in size.

Chastain draws the following conclusions from this situation. One hopes that Charming Shoppes will take these words to heart:

1. Lane Bryant would love me to spend my size 26/28 money there, but they are too ashamed of the way I look to show women who look anything like me in their clothes.

2. Lane Bryant thinks its fun to disappoint plus-size women and make them feel bad about themselves by creating a public image of their clothing that cannot possibly be recreated on the plus-size women to whom they sell those clothes.

3. Lane Bryant thinks that full-figured women hate our bodies so much that we can’t bear the sight of ourselves and therefore will only buy clothes if they are sold on a non-plus-size model so that we can commit the fallacy in #2 wherein we believe that these clothes will make us appear not plus-size.

Chastain damningly exposes the underlying size-bigotry behind the industry's use of faux-plus models. The Judgment of Paris has made similar points on many occasions, but the argument has even more force coming from an actual full-figured woman who represents Lane Bryant's customer base.

Ms. Chastain goes further, though, and makes the following trenchant observation:

Almost every normal activity that we see on commercials, billboards, magazines etc. is being done by a thin women. We keep hearing that over 60% of the people in this country are [full-figured]...But if the only thing I knew about this culture were movies, billboards, commercials and television shows, I would think that almost everyone was thin. And Lane Bryant, which could be a bastion of positivity showing plus-size women looking confident and fabulous, instead opts to alter their clothes to fit women who will never pay them any money because they do their shopping at the vast array of stores that carry their sizes, not the the very few stores that carry my size, and that’s disappointing to me.

How can Lane Bryant (and every other plus-size retailer) not understand this? How can it not see that not only is the company aggravating its customers by using faux-plus models, but it is demoralizing those customers as well, and making them less likely to purchase clothing?

If, instead, its advertising helped its customers feel better about themselves by showing genuinely full-figured women looking gorgeous and stylish, then those women would be more inclined to spend their money on wardrobe and accessories, rather than on diet-starvation and exercise torture.

* * *

The comments that appear in response to Chastain's post are also worth nothing. One person writes:

My hat is off to any plus size retailer who’s gutsy enough to bite the bullet, shell out the funds for plus-size mannequins, arrange for truly plus-size models, and present the plus-size fashions realistically.

Merchants who DO display their plus size fashions on plus size models deserve to be cheered, celebrated, and patronized — and I’ll be at the head of the cheering squad handing out lists of those merchants.

Agreed. This is why the Judgment of Paris only promotes campaigns that feature genuinely full-figured models, while ignoring the rest. This Lane Bryant post is a lone exception, because the issue is intertwined with the contest that precipitated the discussion.

Sadly, however, many myths and lies still pervade public thinking. Consider the following statements:

My LB has long said that they have run focus groups to compare customer reaction to larger models, and say that most customers react negatively to them. As a corporation, they are in business solely to make money, not to make anyone feel good.

I have actually had this conversation with my cousin who used to be the manager at a Lane Bryant store and she said they have tried using larger-size women in their ads and they don’t sell as well as they do when thinner models are used.

False, and false.

1 We destroyed the "focus group" myth in this post several years ago, in which we enumerated all of the variables that skew such studies. And that assumes that such focus groups ever even existed in the first place. We have never heard from anyone, ever, who personally participated in such a focus group. We are convinced that they are a myth.

2. We have been following Lane Bryant's advertising since 1998--as long as this site has existed. If the company had ever "tried using larger-size women in their ads," we would have noted it and celebrated it. It has never happened. So the claim that this approach has been attempted and failed is simply false.

The only possible exception is a short-lived promotion that appeared a year or so after Charming Shoppes took over Lane Bryant, which featured Megan Garcia and several other models in loose, boring shirts. It was a deadly dull campaign that looked like it was targeted for the geriatric crowd, and produced so few images (and no catalogue) that it can hardly even be called a campaign at all.

Courtney offers her own comment on the matter in the discussion thread:

The anti-plus sentiment being perpetuated within the plus-size industry is sad and wrong . . . The first company that truly embraces their plus-size consumer base by using genuinely plus-size models, styles them (hair, make-up, wardrobe) beautifully and shoots them looking joyous and liberated will start a real curvy revolution. When plus-size companies use "faux-plus" models, they're not selling a fantasy. They're perpetuating a lie that women can only be attractive at a certain size. If they use gorgeous, truly plus-size models, they're empowering their customers by saying, "Look at how beautiful you are just the way you are! We make clothes for you just the way you are. We celebrate you just the way you are!" Imagine how many women would see the reality of how beautiful they can be if they start to love themselves… just as they are.

We concur wholeheartedly. Genuinely full-figured and gorgeous plus-size models do exist (e.g., Kelsey Olson, Katherine Roll, Charlotte Coyle, Mayara Russi, Rosie Mercado, and many others). We look forward to the day when the plus-size industry will stop infuriating and demoralizing its customers by using faux-plus models, as it does today, and will instead begin featuring genuinely full-figured goddesses, who will inspire full-figured women, and show them just how attractive they can be.

Still our favourite outtake sequence from Courtney's audition taping, showcasing her well-fed size-18/20 contours and the seductive commotion in her figure:

- Chastain's Web post

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