WHEN German women's magazine Brigitte unveiled its first "models-free" edition almost two years ago, it was hailed as a trailblazing stand against the often-implausible view of perfection peddled by the fashion world.
Andreas Lebert, its then editor-in-chief, complained about being fed up with having to use digital manipulation to "fatten up" photographs of professional models, and vowed to only to use amateurs instead.
But the magazine has now done a U-turn, announcing a makeover after recent sales fell by 8%. The publisher has admitted the no-models policy is under review. So why did the ground-breaking strategy fail to garner the universal acclaim expected? For a start it is impossible to define what a "real woman" looks like. We come in all shapes and sizes. To say that a thin woman doesn't fall under that banner is no less insulting than intimating the morbidly obese should be hidden away from public view.
M&S is the latest to have a bash at trying to crack the issue, unveiling its autumn/winter womenswear campaign last week. Gone are Twiggy, Myleene and Dannii et al, replaced by models who range in age from 20 to 57, and in size from eight to 16. On paper it is genius. In reality? A bit of a damp squib.
Don't get me wrong, it's vibrant, glossy, the clothes look amazing (and the Edwyn Collins soundtrack is great), but at the end of the day, the women are still models. And they look like models. But then, aren't models real women too?
In my life I've been everything from a size eight to a 20 – and I don't recall my status as a "real woman" being revoked at any point. Perhaps it is time to stop getting caught up in semantics and focus on what matters: being comfortable in our own skins. All the rest is simply white noise.
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