How many times do you close a magazine, and think, “I must begin my diet immediately?” Or how often do you wander around stores staring at photos of models in the latest rage, and think, “That won’t look like that on me!’
Chances are, unless you are supremely body confident, it’s happened more than once. It almost puts me off clothes shopping (not my favorite way to spend an afternoon at the best of times).
But British store Marks and Spencer may well be about to change all that. They have just launched their Autumn/Winter 2013 Collection, using photos taken by none other than superstar photographer Annie Leibovitz. Called “Britain’s Leading Ladies,” it features the victim of a heinous acid attack turned campaigner Katie Piper, female boxer Nicola Adams, the 2011 Nurse of the Year Helen Allen, and the CEO of Save the Children, Jasmine Whitbread. These women are genuine heroes — an inspirational choice of models who look amazing, but also are worthy of our adulation because of their tremendous courage.
Amongst the civilians (a term coined by Liz Hurley to distinguish her celebrity self from us mere mortals) are also novelist Monica Ali, artist Tracey Emin, and Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren. All aspirational, intelligent women who are famous for their talents rather than having skinny frames.
Naturally, we would expect a smattering of fashion types in there, as well — and so you have Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington and model Karen Elson. While Coddington may have modeled, she is more well-known as a giant talent in styling and fashion, as anyone who has watched the Vogue documentary The September Issue will testify. Stills released from the photo shoot show the women on a boat on the Thames, in a field in the countryside, and in an art studio, complete with easel.
Clearly M&S wants to attract cool, cultured women who are impressed with such bold advertising, as its clothing sales have been going down for their eighth consecutive quarter last month. This attempt to garner headlines by using “normal” women may put off some — but for me, it makes me want to race through their doors whooping for joy. Just like when Dove previously ran their “Real Beauty” campaign, after-market research indicated that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful. Funny enough, that 2004 campaign was also shot by Leibovitz!
I applaud M&S for their bravery. At last we are celebrating people who DESERVE the adulation for their achievements and talents, and not just because they are a size zero. Wouldn’t you prefer to be looking at these unique, diverse women’s faces staring out of a magazine at you, rather than some identical models with protruding bones and sunken cheeks? It reminds me of the glorious summer of 2012 when the British papers were dominated by pictures of Olympic heroes. Finally, kids were aspiring to be someone worthy, someone dedicated and resilient, rather than just some reality star wannabe. The time has come to change what we are being sold as “beauty.” Well done M&S -—makes me proud to be British.
Isn’t it about time everyone followed suit?
Photo credit: Marks and Spencer