Retailer H&M is making a bold statement by not making a statement at all. The clothing chain’s women’s wear home page has just been updated to include their latest “Beachwear” line, which if you click on it, includes a variety of beach clothing ranging from swimsuits to sheer knits to denim — all featuring plus-size model Jennie Runk. The remarkable thing about the line is that there is zero fanfare made about the line being “plus-size” or whatever — it’s simply “Beachwear.” How refreshing is that?!?
In her piece about H&M’s marketing strategy on Jezebel, Jenna Sauers writes, “I think it sends a positive message about inclusivity and changing standards of beauty to have a plus-size girl all over the landing page www.hm.com/us/beachwear. Not /plussizebeachwear! Just /beachwear.”
If you click on any of the number of outfits available in the H&M Beachwear line you will find outfits that are only available in sizes ranging from 14-24. It is a bit disappointing that the line falls under the “H&M+ SIZE 14-24″ category instead of just “H&M SIZE 14-24,” but it’s all about taking steps in the right direction, right?
Jennie Runk was a young teen when she first started modeling. At the time there was some concern about her weight, so what did she do? She put on a few pounds and went into “plus-size” modeling!
Jennie’s mom, Karen Runk, talked with St. Louis Today about what it was like when her daughter was first approached to be a model. “I worried about her self-esteem,” she says. “I was worried about eating disorders and worried about girls being told that they are not skinny enough. I didn’t want Jennie to have to deal with that.”
From St. Louis Today:
Karen said she was relieved when Jennie chose to become a plus-sized model. Jennie estimates that she put on about 10 to 20 pounds to become a size 10-12. Within a year, she had booked an assignment with Vogue. Since then, she has worked for Marie Claire, Cosmo Girl and Seventeen magazines and has been in national campaigns for plus-sized boutiques.
“When we tell people that she’s a plus-sized model, people do double takes,” Karen said. “The first thing people see is how beautiful she is, not her dress size.”
I just stumbled upon this. It was written about a year ago, but I think still applies today. One of the biggest reasons I decided to model was because I wanted to be a role model. I wanted to be someone who makes people think “if she can succeed, so can I. And I don’t have to change who I am to do it, because I am who I am, and that’s pretty d*mn perfect!”
Reading things like this makes me so happy I made the decision to do what I do. It really warms my heart to know that people are getting the message that I and all the other plus size models are trying to broadcast – you are you, and you are perfect, why would you want to be anything else? Also, I want to thank whoever wrote this (I couldn’t find a name) for helping us get that message out, and for authoring such a personal blog, in hopes of helping others in similar situations .
Jennie highlighted the difference in how models are measured in a 2009 interview with StyleList in which she pointed out, “Plus-sized models are not actually plus-sized women, we’re just bigger than the average model.” She also talked about her decision as a teen to add a few pounds instead of loase a few pounds to pursue her modeling career. “I wasn’t interested in trying to work my body down to a size 2/4,” Jennie says. “I’m still not convinced that’s possible for me. It seems like it’s a lot easier to maintain the figure of a plus-sized model. I’m naturally a size 10/12. It would be setting myself up for failure, and dieting is not that much fun.”
It seems H&M (and many others) agree.