Body image has become a way for retailers to market to their customers by showing that they are willing to use models that customers can identify with. Not only has there been plus size mannequins introduced in big department stores such as Debenhams in the UK but retailers are becoming more open to using people with disabilities in print marketing campaigns and in-store.
In addition to using plus size mannequins in-store, Debenhams was also applauded in April 2013 for using people of different shapes, sizes, ages and with disabilities. Plus size models Jada Sezer and Philomena Kwao posed with other beautiful models that were petite, over the age of 40, missing limbs and wearing prosthetics.
Considering that we still have retailers like La Perla, who was blasted back in May 2014 on Twitter for using mannequins whose ribs were showing, seeing these “real people” inspired campaigns from retailers that are not afraid to use different types of people to market their brand, is refreshing and inspiring to many.
However, this use of “real people” inspired marketing is not new to upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom, who has been using people with disabilities in their marketing campaigns since 1991. Their latest Anniversary Sale 2014 catalog, featuring model and blogger Jillian Mercado (Manufactured 1987.com), who suffers from muscular dystrophy, as well as other models with disabilities, is receiving kudos and praise in the media.
Nordstrom spokeswoman Tara Darrow said in an official statement:
“[It’s] really about reflecting the customers and communities we serve. ‘We serve diverse customers and it’s an opportunity for them to see themselves when they’re looking through the book or online. ‘We don’t promote it or go out and talk about it. We just think they look great.”
The day before the news broke out regarding Nordstrom’s latest catalog, another huge retailer JC Penney unveiled five mannequins in their Manhattan Mall, NYC window display that were modeled after five real people that represent real bodies. The mannequins were created during a segment produced by The TODAY Show as part of their #LoveYourSelfie campaign, which promotes positive body images.
“JCPenney understands that we’ve been fitting the diversity of America for over 100 years; we’ve been doing it broadly across the country for a long time. We understand, and we like to say ‘fit’ is our super power. We love the range of shapes, colors of skin, wallet, the lifestyles and the occasions that all of our customers shop for; we consider it a challenge and an opportunity to service that. And that’s what we’ve been doing– that’s the business we understand we’re in.”