Cynical Or Open Minded? Company Uses “Diversity In Fashion” Portraits In Catalog

About two weeks ago we short video that shows how Photoshop was used as a cookie cutter mold to “tune” a model into the Barbie the industry expects models to be.

Cynical Or Open Minded? Fashion Company Shows "Diversity In Fashion"

Today I would like to share an opposite (albeit a bit oldish) story about UK fashion chain Debenhams who took quite the opposite route.

In their last High Summer Look Book Debenhams chose to not use the skinny and busting abs models that we have come to expect in catalog, Instead they went with showing a wide selection of exactly the opposite. Per their blog they are Featuring an amputee, three models over 40 (including one nearing 70), a paralympian athlete and not forgetting our swimwear shot with a size 18 model to celebrate curvelicious women.

This is of course not to say that they have no shopped they shoots in a similar way to what Dove does with their real beauty campaign.

Here are some of the photographs Debenhams used in their look book:

Cynical Or Open Minded? Fashion Company Shows "Diversity In Fashion"

Cynical Or Open Minded? Fashion Company Shows "Diversity In Fashion"

Cynical Or Open Minded? Fashion Company Shows "Diversity In Fashion"

Cynical Or Open Minded? Fashion Company Shows "Diversity In Fashion"

Cynical Or Open Minded? Fashion Company Shows "Diversity In Fashion"

[Debenhams shows diversity in fashion… | Debenhams]

  • Kelly

    They all look gorgeous :)

  • Hoang Cao Nghia

    It’s good that they include all body types, I would like to see same dress in both size (maybe the alternatives smaller in appendix?).

  • John Newton

    I find the work stunning and refreshing. It is wonderful to see real people and not super models.

  • Laurent

    Who knows if the amputees aren’t fake and ordinary photoshoped models ?

    My turn to be cynical… 😉

    • AOI

      right! because amputees can’t be beautiful people, too? wow.

  • Willie Dillard

    I find this very refreshing. With the right techniques everyone can look amazing in photographs. There is some great tips over at

  • Renato Murakami

    Bit of both I guess.
    Much like Dove, all models are still beautiful in their own way… and of course properly lit, with make up, perhaps some photoshop, well balanced faces and body proportions, etc.
    It does expand the notion of beauty more than the tired anorexic models display, but it’s still far from being representative of diversity.
    Which for me is plenty ok, since the whole discussion around it can be too much at times.
    It’s pretty simple actually: Despite what critics might say, truth is, people interested in fashion and beauty magazines/media buys them because of beauty. It is the main thing that sells those.
    Replace those beautiful models with regular ugly people and I have a hard time believing it’ll sell. Because what those magazines are selling are “beauty standards”. Something to achieve, something to try to go after.
    Well, some people might buy it just because, but it won’t be the same crowd who buys it regularly nowadays.
    Problem is, as most “we’re different” campaigns, this will probably be a point out of the curve.
    Something like “we’ve done this, and now back to normal schedule”.
    Because the ugly reality of the matter is that it’s not about what’s representative, not about what’s fair, not about honesty and others – it’s about what sells. Deep down, what we need is cultural change.
    Because then we’d have more model agencies looking for diversity. We’d then have more consumers interested in buying magazines with diverse models. We’d have a fashion industry interested in creating nice clothing for all body types. etc etc

  • Joel Meaders

    I have no problem with any of these except for the clinically overweight/obese models. I do not think we should celebrate or teach our children that it is OK to be overweight or obese.

    It is OK to love yourself and love who you are as an individual but this nation and the developed world has a 140+ billion per year health epidemic that should NOT be embraced by any means.

    • Björn Lubetzki

      Which of these woman is clinically overweight or obese?

      Non of these woman are obese or clinically overweight!! Are some chubby? Yes. But there is a big difference between having a bit of fat and being obese.

      It’s not like they used these as models

      Oh an by the way I’m fine with all the images.

      • Joel Meaders

        Obesity: Obesity means having too much body fat. It is not the same as being overweight, which means weighing too much. A person may be overweight from extra muscle, bone, or water, as well as from having too much fat.

        #1 in the swimsuit for sure, though she is still beautiful like the others aside from the body fat.

        • Rick

          Not even close Joel. Obesity means being more than 20% above normal weight for height and build. Less than 20% above is just considered overweight.

          • Joel Meaders

            Thanks for clearing that up!

            My point is simply is, being overweight is bad regardless of how you package it.

            In a non P/C way: Being a little fat is still fat and it is not right to make it the new norm. Being extremely fat is exactly the same.

    • Amber

      Joel, I’d wager that none of the women posted above actually qualify as overweight. The problem is that your pea brain has been so skewed by advertising that you don’t even know what a body is supposed to look like.

      • Joel Meaders

        I’d wager the woman on the right in the bikini is. Thanks for the insight regarding my skewed pea brain, Amber. My fiance is 5’10” @ 140lbs and is what I consider, real with a real body. She eats healthy and works out about 30-45 minutes a day. I will let her know that all of the times I’ve called her beautiful were lies because of advertising skewing my pea brain.

        If she ate unhealthy food and didn’t work out I’d bet she would be overweight, thus decreasing physical attractiveness and my opinion on her health and looks.

        Physical attraction is measured by the individual and defined by nature, not advertising. Being overweight opposes evolution and nature, as does sitting in a chair, eating Doritos and watching reality TV all day.

    • Amber

      Just double checked…the upper normal weight range for a woman 5’7″ tall is 163 lbs. Here’s what that looks like.

      • Joel Meaders

        I do not find that woman attractive, though all but one of the models in this article are attractive as measured by my skewed pea brain.

  • Julia A

    I’ll be a downer in a different way.
    “not to say that they have no shopped they shoots in a similar way”
    Work on your English.