H&M quietly debuts “Beachwear” collection using plus-size model

H&M Beachwear 2013

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.”

Plus-size model Jennie Runk for H&M

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 models H&M non plus size Beachwear

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.”

Plus-size model Jennie Runk for H&M Beachwear

On Jennie Runk’s Facebook page she just posted a link to this blog entry about unrealistic body goals and offered up this commentary:

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.”

According to the Daily Mail’s piece about the “Beachwear” line, Runk told Vogue Italia earlier this year, “I think separating between ‘normal’ and ‘plus-size’ is getting a little old fashioned.”

It seems H&M (and many others) agree.

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  • Real star article on starcasm?

    What a beautiful and smart young woman! Her body is a more accurate depiction of a good percentage of women, so it’s great to see that for once instead of the starved to death 15 year olds.

  • Amanda

    It’s pathetic that this woman, who is on the skinny side of average, is considered “plus sized.” But good on H&M for adding variety to the models they choose.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.j.church Matthew J Church

    Finally a company putting real sized women in its ads.

    • Cassandra

      All women are “real” sized. I’m much skinnier than this woman, but in a healthy weight and fitness level. So am I suddenly not “real” sized? Being body positive doesn’t include shaming other sizes by terming only one size as “real.”

    • Cassandra

      By the way, I DO approve of them using body diversity in their ads as well. I just don’t approve of deeming one size as “real.”

  • Liz

    i hope this translates to their employees I asked for a size 12 in jeans and was treated like a leper in one of their Vegas’ location.

    • Regina

      Ridiculous especially since their size 12 fits like a size 6!

  • Regina

    It is refreshing, but I think she is more average than plus sized. She looks great! But I don’t think you should consider yourself plus size if you look like this!

  • MissLisa

    The funny thing is that H&M clothes dont fit the average plus size person. They stop at size 12.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anton.rebbe.5 Anton Rebbe

    Wow. I wish my life was empty enough that any of this mattered to me. Some people in life have real problems; I’m tired of the media making fashion industry’s problems our own. Who cares what their standards are? And its time for all women to stop watching so much tv and reading so many beauty magazines. Even these ones talking about plus sized women being the average. Who freaking cares what the average size of women is either way?! And if women feel depressed by society’s pressures on their bodies, again I say, who cares? People are starving, doing drugs, committing suicides, abandoning their children and murdering one another every day in this country! I dont think a few sad women who don’t know how to deal with their body issues should rank all that high on our priority list. Move on people!

  • mangos

    This girl is gorgeous! Good for her and good for H&M! Beauty is not limited to size 4.