Britney Spears, spokesperson for Candies for Kohl’s campaign recently released campaign pictures, before and after airbrushing, to dispel body image issues and promote a healthy body image for her young fans.
There have been significant gains in the last few years in regards to promoting healthy and realistic body shapes and a backlash to unrealistic models being used in fashion magazines and advertising.
Another celebrity to jump on the bandwagon includes Jennifer Hawkins, Myer spokesperson and ex Miss Universe who posed for the February 2010 issue of marie claire magazine sans clothes and airbrushing. This also provided a mixed response from critics who felt it was more of a publicity stunt than trying to promote a healthy body image.
In marie claire’s exclusive interview, Jennifer Hawkins confesses that she never could have done a shoot like this two years ago.
“I would have been worried about what people thought, whether it was the right decision – a thousand different things… But over the past year and a half I’ve grown into myself, and I’m more confident and comfortable within the modelling industry. I did it for the experience… It felt quite sensual and sexy. I felt empowered”.
Bianca Dye who appeared nude in the November 2009 issue of marie claire slammed the magazine and said that pushing a 26-year-old Miss Universe winner as the pin-up for female body confidence is “just not right”.
“She was born beautiful. She has not had to go through any stress to look like that,” Dye told Confidential.
“Jackie Frank is one of the most respected editors in the country and I am in shock that they would say Jennifer Hawkins is a natural role model. It’s like we’ve taken 20 steps backwards.”
In a more positive direction, Sarah Murdoch appeared on the cover of Australian’s Woman’s Weekly last year in an untouched photograph, saying women should be able to embrace the beauty of ageing. The magazine photo shoot coincides with the release of a report by the Federal Government’s body image advisory group.
The Federal Government jumped on the positive body image bandwagon and late last year introduced a new National Advisory Group on Body Image. The Advisory Group will be chaired by former ACP magazine editor Mia Freedman who championed the ‘Body Love’ section in Cosmo magazine.
Members of the advisory group include model and media identity Sarah Murdoch, Girlfriend magazine editor Sarah Cornish, founder of the Butterfly Foundation, Claire Vickery and body image researcher Susan Paxton.
Last year the Government allocated $125,000 to establish the Code of Conduct, which will include consideration of the following issues:
- Clearer notification of altered or enhanced images, including digital alterations.
- Better representation of diverse body shapes and sizes.
- Appropriate industry age limits.
“The Government is committed to tackling negative body image from a national perspective, by helping young Australians to build confidence and resilience against the body image pressures that they face.
“Body image affects the lives of young Australians in very powerful ways and the Government is determined to make a difference over the long term,” said Kate Ellis.
But critics say that Kate Ellis put a four-inch heel wrong and sent mixed messages when she appeared in in Grazia magazine’s annual “Body Image Special”. The young politician donned a pair of killer $1,790 Gucci heels and curve-hugging $695 leather Karen Millen dress that looked more catwalk model than state figure.
Like successful plus-size model Crystal Renn who appeared on the cover of Sunday Life in mid April 2010, only to be upstaged by a stick-thin model a few pages away in the Fashion section, it seems to be a case of one step forward, one step back with designers and fashion editors doing a reluctance dance around the issue of positive body image.
With some designers only providing samples in size six or smaller for photo shoots, magazines can only use models who fit into those sizes.
But with the luxury clothing market taking a major hit in revenue in the Global Financial Crisis while mainstayers like Target and Kmart capitalised on providing affordable clothing, are the elitist designers starting to see the business sense of adding kilos and thus dollar figures to their clothing ranges?
Influential designer Karl Lagerfeld who famously said “No one wants to see curvy women,” seems to have finally embraced plus-sized models and did a photo shoot with the voluptuous burlesque dancer Miss Dirty Martini for V magazine.
Perhaps the tide is finally turning and the fashion industry will do more than pay lip service to promoting a healthy body image.