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Old 26th February 2007   #1
HSG
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Default Call for curvier swimwear models


Further to the ongoing battle against the underweight standard, The Daily Mail reports that the British retail chain John Lewis has eschewed size-zero waifs, and will be showcasing its swimwear line on a size-12 model.

In the article, a John Lewis spokesman is quoted as saying:

"The photographs show you can be size 12 and be healthy and beautiful...

"You don't have to be super-skinny to model clothes in an attractive way."

This would seem to be a step forward--until one remembers that a British size 12 is roughly equivalent to a U.S. size eight. The model (who is pictured in the linked article) appears to be very thin indeed, and one wonders: "How could any retail chain even think of showcasing swimwear--in which the demand for a full, womanly figure is most acute--on a girl who is any thinner than this?"

John Lewis itself acknowledges the point, when it notes how "astonished" the company was at the difficulty that it had in finding the model in question, nothing that "Size 12 isn't big. It's still quite slim."

So it is. And yet, if it is disheartening that a mere U.K. size 12 is considered a step up for straight-size retailers, it is even more dismaying to realize that most plus-size retailers feature swim apparel on models who are scarcely fuller-figured.

In plus-size swim promotions, faux-plus dishonesty still abounds, despite the fact that the public has been asking for larger models for years.

We commend John Lewis for its progressive step, but we must stipulate that if the company had really wanted to challenge the fashion industry's emaciated standard--and likewise, if plus-size retailers really wished to please their customers--then they would feature their swim apparel on true plus-size models, American size 14W or better.

Alas, such campaigns are all too rare. By this definition, Barbara Brickner remains the ideal swimwear model, as exemplified in her legendary Mode editorials, and more recently, in this luscious image for happy-size.de:

Last year, we praised a campaign by www.christina.ca, featuring a still-unidentified blonde model who would have immediately made it onto our survey page, if we had ever been able to determine her identity.

This year, we know of only one swim campaign that employs a visibly plus-size model, and that is by a company called Cyberswim.com, featuring an appealing girl named Roxanne.

Although she has more of an hourglass figure than the ideal hourglass-plus-pear contours of Mrs. Brickner, Roxanne's size-16 proportions do endow her with a shapely silhouette, and particularly, with full limbs. She gives her swimwear a womanly look that is indisputably superior to the sight of waifs with bones protruding through the material of their swim garments.

Cyberswim deserves praise for shooting a campaign that is attractive, and also rather size-positive. Note that it even retains the appearance of a trace of texture on the model's curvy legs--a particularly progressive step, as women have been taught to feel self-conscious about this feature, yet shouldn't, as it is simply a natural characteristic. It in no way detracts from Roxanne's beauty in this lovely image.

Altogether, this campaign seems admirably curve-friendly, and provides a fine example for other plus-size swimwear promotions to follow. By showcasing the natural aspects of a feminine figure that are apparent in swimwear, from full legs,

to a curvy waist,

the Cyberswim images help customers become more comfortable with their own appearance in swim apparel. And once women feel self-confident about their figures in swimwear, they will feel self-confident in any type of clothing.

Let us take note of one more fine Cyberswim image, before we move on. The following picture shows Roxanne looking every bit a goddess, but observe the opulent surroundings that are hinted at in the background. One can imagine that the location is a posh mansion on the French Riviera, or in the Caribbean. The sumptuous richness of the model's figure harmonizes with the feeling of wealth, privilege, and lavish indulgence suggested by the environment.

The result is an image that communicates an aspirational fantasy, just as the fashion industry (rightly) wishes to create--but a fantasy that gives women a sense of ease rather than discomfort, that inspires rather than demeans them, and that helps them feel better about their own natural beauty, and more comfortable with their own luscious figures--so comfortable, in fact, that wearing swimwear will no longer be a source of apprehension for them, but enjoyment.

- Another exemplary image . . .

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Old 30th March 2007   #2
M. Lopez
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Default Re: Call for curvier swimwear models

I thought of this thread today when I visited the site of Big is Beautiful, the Dutch plus-size fashion magazine, and came across this seductive image of Laetitia, a European full-figured model who has been mentioned on this site before. The magazine's current issue presumably includes a swim editorial with her.

There are models with prettier facial features, but Laetitia has one of the most womanly, alluring figures in the industry.



This is what an ideal swimwear image should look like. The model's figure is soft, shapely, and full, not "toned" in the least. She's unmistakably a plus-size model, and she looks luscious in her swimsuit. It's also nice that the posed her in a relaxed, lounging manner, which suits the aesthetic so well. Good expression, too.

Laetitia's online portfolio at her agency, Euromodel.nl, has what appear to be two more images from this layout.



It's too bad that this magazine isn't available in North America (except by subscription). Many U.S. plus-size retailers could learn a lesson from this editorial in how attractive truly full-figured models can look, modelling swim apparel.



It reminds me of the original Mode approach...

Last edited by HSG : 17th November 2007 at 19:24. Reason: Image URLs edited
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Old 26th April 2007   #3
HSG
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Default Re: Call for curvier swimwear models

Quote:
Originally Posted by M. Lopez
It reminds me of the original Mode approach...

Funny you should say that, because the latest issue of Big Is Beautiful magazine finally showed up in our mailbox the other day, and Laetitia's swimwear layout is, in fact, graced with the caption, "Mode."

To be sure, the word is used in its international sense, as a synonym for "fashion," but a suggested comparison with Mode magazine is not unreasonable. Laetitia may not have the prettiest facial features of any model in the industry, but she does have a gorgeous swimwear figure, with soft limbs whose round shape is the result of natural fullness, rather than a consequence of disfiguring gym torture. She exhibits a genuinely full-figured appearance, recalling the Mode approach, and the plus-size industry would do well to adopt this standard as a minimum, when selecting the size of its swimwear models.

Photographing swimwear in a studio never achieves the same effect as shooting it "in context" in a tropical locale, but at least the magazine dressed up the shoot with some attractive props. They do make a difference, transforming a potentially cold, clinical presentation, into something with a bit more whimsy.

In the following image, note how the wardrobe stylist used the bikini top as a "fashion bustier" beneath an open shirt, creating a highly alluring effect, but one that is less overt than if the bustier were an item of lingerie. The result is sensual, but still with some restraint.

As a whole, Big Is Beautiful remains a fairly decent magazine, although, being a Dutch publication, it would do well to feature Europe's most attractive plus-size models (Charlotte Coyle, Karen Vermeiren, and Geri Avril, to name just a few) in its pages. The fact that the text of the magazine is in a foreign language may work to BiB's favour, as it leaves us oblivious to any mixed messages the magazine may contain, and allows the images to speak for themselves.

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