We've just launched our third Ultimo "Real" Women campaign: every year it seems to get bigger and better and this year is no different.
We were astounded by the number of entries and had thousands of people apply, which goes to show just how much our customers want to see real women in their underwear and follow in the footsteps of our famous models like Luisana Lopilato, Mel B, Rachel Hunter, Helena Christensen and Sarah Harding.
Each year the campaign is open to women sizes 8-18 and from ages 18+ and it’s our job at Ultimo to pick the best ladies to represent the real women out there.
This is easily the most difficult part about the ‘Real’ women process. After reading each entry carefully the Ultimo team and myself selected 10 ladies to take part in the campaign. I’m delighted with our winners this year.
The two Scots are Lisa Maclachlan, 32, from Glasgow, a size 12 and a 32E; and Ashley Mae Campbell, 23, from Dunblane, a size 8 and a 32B.
We always announce the winners via Facebook and Twitter and they get a great feeling of support from the Ultimo social media community. The winners all get know to each other ahead of the shoot, chatting on Twitter for weeks. One of our winners this year said to me: "Coming to the shoot today, I felt as if I was coming to meet my best friends, not strangers!"
Aside from the 1o ladies picked by us, there is always a charity element to the campaign. This year, two ladies who appear have won the prize at auction, which has meant we could raise £120,0000 for charities over three years, including including Breast Cancer Care, Cash for Kids and Children with Leukemia.
Doing the Ultimo Real Women campaign is really important to me: aside from raising money for charity, I feel it's necessary to showcase women of all shapes and sizes in the media. It's unrealistic for women to only see images of slender professional models who represent such a small proportion of the population.
It’s part of our duty as a brand to show women of all shapes and sizes in our lingerie. Since I started Ultimo, it’s always been my aim to boost the confidence of women and make them feel good about themselves; whether it’s by using our tan, sculpting creams or wearing a good bra.
The new stars are shot in a series of poses showing off the latest designs by Ultimo’s main line collection and their Parisian inspired Adore Moi collection, which is exclusive to Debenhams.
If women out there can relate to pictures of our Real Women and see how great they look, then I feel we’ve done our job.
The response from the media and our customers has been phenomenal, our real women are certainly getting used to having their faces splashed across the press and magazines - which only goes to prove how much support there is out there for our real women and just how many people want to see images of women of all different shapes and sizes in the media.
It’s incredible the feeling the ladies get after the shoot and the new found confidence it gives them. I’ve posed in my lingerie and I can vouch that it’s not an easy thing to do. But I want women to celebrate their bodies.
I’m over the moon with the campaign this year, but read some of the comments from this year’s winners:
Lisa Maclachlan from Glasgow: “It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Michelle told us it would change our lives forever and it already has. The support I've had from my partner, family and friends has been unbelievable, even strangers congratulate me on Twitter which is lovely. It was nerve wracking on the lead up to the shoot, I'd stand in front of the mirror in my underwear and cringe 'I don't know if I can do this', but when we were there we all soaked it up and loved every minute of it. It was very empowering and I can say that every single one of us can hold our heads up high now and say that we are happy with our bodies and that we are real women. I'd never want to be anything less than a size 12!"
Dawn Williams: “I can only equate it (the shoot) to that of my wedding day. I felt as if I was dreaming. The best thing about being a winner is it has made me feel special, feminine and more confident. To sum up my experience is easy - Life Changing.”
Rebecca Davenport: “Applying was a spur of the moment thing. I follow Michelle on Twitter and saw it, thought it sounded good and then went for it. I’m so glad I did it, one of my friends is a plus-size model so she told me to go for it, she reassured me it would be fine. My family are really excited for me, my Mum has told my Dad he has to go into Debenhams and take a picture - he isn’t happy about that.“
Donna Evans: “The best part of being an Ultimo Real Woman is the confidence it's given me to be proud of who I am, as I never really believed in myself. But now I'm going to go out there and get what I want from life - in my business and getting fitter, but loving me for me!”
Leah Morris: “Women have different forms, each one beautiful and unique in shape. Taking part in the campaign was the chance for me to educate my daughter's generation (albeit in a small way) that women have curves, and that our bodies are vastly different, that there is no such thing as "normal" and that a woman’s body is beautiful even if doesn't meet the stereotypical image we see the media on a daily basis. I really hope that other teenagers and women out there will draw strength from this campaign and embrace the body that they are blessed with, curves and all. The support from friends, colleagues, family - and especially my daughter, who is so proud of her mum - has been unbelievable!"
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