If you go to H&M's women's wear homepage right now, you'll see something a little unusual. The megachain is highlighting its new seasonal deliveries on its homepage — "Casual Classics," "Style Update: Black & White," "New Looks April," so much so ordinary. But then there's the "Beachwear" collection.
Something about that one is a little bit different: the model, whose name is Jennie Runk, just happens to be plus-size. And no, her section isn't labeled "Plus-Size Beachwear" — it's just beachwear, period. No big deal.
I really like seeing plus-size models in fashion imagery and advertising as a matter of course. (Note: A plus-size model is not necessarily the same as a plus-size woman.) Models whose bodies differ from the straight-size standard should be visible in fashion, outside of the stigmatizing magazine "Size" issues and the dedicated "Plus" categories, which retailers always seem to bury. Why shouldn't Jennie Runk, and other women like her, get be on the homepage, too? Seeing plus-size bodies in fashion spreads and ads should be as common as seeing anything else.
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.
When you click through to a product page from any of Runk's ten photos — surprise — you do land in H&M's plus-size section. Customers who might like to buy, say, this cute bikini, in a size smaller than 14, might find that frustrating. But how much cute stuff in magazines and online doesn't even come in plus sizes? For once, the shoe is on the other foot.