Land’s End & Plus-Size Model Body Image

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a model. I love that stuff — the glitz, glamor, make-up, product, fashion of the runway. You can bet, though, I’d never model for Land’s End. When you watch the video here, you’ll get what I’m talking about…Land’s End makes its plus-size models look extraordinarily frumpy, having lack of confidence and implied low self esteem.

I leave you to watch and ponder as you consider whether I’ve got a point, or not. I’m offended; are you?

22 comments
lpeery07
lpeery07

Honestly if one wants to be offended, there is no end to the things one can find. That's what this feels like to me. Hair twirling, pigeon toed..I mean come on. If I were pigeon toed, I could easily say I was offended by you pointing that out on the model. There are many things that we can focus on where true discrimination is happening, but this is stretching in my honest opinion. It's complaining just to have something to complain about.

Imelda_the_Hon
Imelda_the_Hon

I couldn't disagree with you more.


I think that red-haired plus size model looks gorgeous and confident in all her pictures in the LE catalog and website. In fact, I found this post by Googling "who is the gorgeous red-haired plus size model in the Lands' End catalog?" 


I cannot distinguish her treatment (or that of the other plus size models) from the treatment of the non-plus size models.  I don't think you can generalize from a couple of images. 





Abigail32
Abigail32

Oh, and one more thing—for what it's worth, I was just flipping through a Lands End catalog and I noticed an image of a thin girl standing in the same pigeon-toed manner as the plus sized model in your catalog. However, she's a child, and isn't supposed to be portraying a professional look, so it's different. I'd mention it, though, because it shows that Lands End finds this pose to be perfectly appropriate for all body types and not un-modellike.

Abigail32
Abigail32

I see your point, but I'm not sure it's necessarily fair to say that the plus size model was shown in a negative light, because to me, she looked smiley and confident, only her picture was more cutesy and less sleek than the other photo, which are just two different styles. With that said, if Lands End plus size models were consistently portrayed as "cutely disheveled" opposite the thin models' sleek and serious look, then one could definitely argue that there was some stereotyping going on. However, the sample shown here is only two photos, providing no proof that these pictures represent anything more than just two different vibes.

Soulati
Soulati

I stirred the pot on this one right down gender lines. From it being suggested I should get a life to being sexist and cuckoo by the men to the women seeing my point about the books and posture and toes comparatively to the other model.

I have more to say on this and how I made my opinions here; and, I tried to spell them out in my comment to Mike Poynton below. What a fascinating response; thanks everyone.

Soulati
Soulati

Bill, yes, she's gorgeous. My point was not about the woman behind the model but about the modeling poses and props Lands End elected to use to depict its clothing line. In my view, a big difference, and fascinating that all the men split down the  line and focused on the woman versus the model. Thanks for sharing.

Mike Poynton
Mike Poynton

Wow! I'm shocked, Jayme! Your using phrases like "...supposed to look..." and "knee bent as usual (like) you're supposed to...", "...incredibly lovely facial expression..." and "...looks like a model should." then "...frumpy and embarrassed about her body image." and "...she's not takin' herself seriously." Well, maybe because she just knocked over all of the books on the shelf! "...she's not sophisticated." It's Land's End not Christian Dior!
I'm a guy, and if I were sitting in the chair you were sitting in in this video, I would be labeled - AT BEST - a sexist! I'd be smeared! And what's wrong with being pigeon-toed?! I think it's "...incredibly lovely." Know why? Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What you consider to be "frumpy" (for whatever personal reason) may actually be considered "real" and "down to earth" (for whatever personal reason) by someone else - like me.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

That's SO WEIRD! I think both models are lovely, but when you compare them side-by-side, it's totally offensive. I wonder why they did that?

Michelle Quillin
Michelle Quillin

Jayme, my initial reaction to the "plus-sized" -- ahem, "average-sized" -- model was, "Awww, she's so adorable!" I mean, there's something about her that's precious, isn't there? So cute!! 

Then I saw the image of the other model, looking professional, confident, ambitious, & competent, and realized the huge difference in message. 

Which one would I be more likely to hire? Which one looks more responsible, reliable, less prone to losing things and forgetting important deadlines? 

I showed the "plus-sized" ad to our 21-year-old daughter, who hates the way American culture categorizes women by their weight/size -- see http://christaquillin.com/no-subject-is-safe/. Her response: "She's adorable! I think she's cute!" Then I showed her the OTHER ad. "Oh...yeah. Wow." I took her on a trip around a few Facebook Pages devoted exclusively to the "Plus-Sized" audience to show her the difference in message. (Check out Plus Model Magazine, The Curvy Fashionista, Bombshell Beauty Blog, Danimezza, and City Chic for just a few!) 

I get what you're saying. But that first girl is still cute as a button! She just needs some help with recognizing how much space she's taking up when she blunders by a stack of books. Poor thing. ;) (I'm being sarcastic.)

Beatriz Alemar
Beatriz Alemar

The scattered books annoy me as well. All I can think about when I see it is the books - I can't even focus on the model. But, when I look at her, she's going for the cute and innocent look which isn't doing it for me the way she's dressed. She's dressed like a professional - I want to see her professional side not the cute, innocent, messy/klutzy side. C'mon Land's End!

Erica Allison
Erica Allison

Very interesting video there, Jayme! I am always intrigued by what makes you hot under the collar and I must say, I see your point. Body image, especially for young girls, is so very important. And believe me, they start looking at catalogs,any catalog, at a very early age. It's completely within the realm to expect that a heavier tween or teen would look at what you just showed us and relate, reinforcing the slouchy, messy stereotype, rather than the more put together image of the second image.  I see many a high school girl looking just like that first image and there's no reason! I however also think they are not given any role models, in the home or out, in which to emulate.  I'm not of the mindset that you're complaining or promoting a victim mentality as the person below comments; I think you're pointing out a valid issue with respect to body image.  Carry on.

@mattshiloh
@mattshiloh

As a heavy person (yes, I admit I am fat)... you seriously need to get a life.  If you don't like the way you look, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  Stop finding faults in other people's work or advertisements.  All you are doing is promoting victim mentality.  GROW UP!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @Abigail32 Hi, Abigail...so nice of you to spend so much time taking a look here and providing feedback. I appreciate your views and your perspective, too. Very interesting about the child in the catalog with their toes inward; I guess that is supposed to be endearing for Land's End? 

 

This was a fascinating post in the comments section. Everyone obviously has deep-rooted impressions about image, body type and its portrayal. Thank you for sharing so many of your thoughts here. 

Abigail32
Abigail32

I didn't read your comments about how you looked through the rest of the catalog. That does make a difference, but I'm a little uncertain as to whether or not you found any other images of plus sized models portrayed in this manner. If so, then that validates your point more, but if not, then I still feel that there was just a different vibe in that particular photograph. You can look through a catalog of clothes, professional or not, and have a range of seriousness and emotion from photo to photo, which is fine, just so long as people of a certain body type aren't consistently portrayed in a different manner from those of other body types. 

Soulati
Soulati

I've pondered my response for a day. Appreciate your opinion, too. I studied the campaign done by Land's End throughout the booklet, and then I studied other images of like-types of clothing on other models in other direct mailers. In no other pose were models shown with posture of the style of this woman I shared. No hair twirling or pigeon toes, either.

What's wrong with that? Nothing. She's a gorgeous woman exactly as she is.

The point is, she was styled that way -- asked to pose as such and the editors selected this image to portray its clothing line with supporting props like books on the floor.

I love the show America's Next Top Model. I watch what the judges look for in the photography with angles of the body and their requirement for sophistication. After studying this campaign specifically, I was surprised. I had never seen such an obvious display of difference with this model compared to others (and compared with the same company's models who were several sizes slimmer).

All of this had a hand in forming my opinion; am I sexist or do I need to get a life as an earlier commenter suggested. Perhaps. Thank you for adding your opinions, Mike.

Soulati
Soulati

Thanks for acknowledging ... it's the books that killed me.

Soulati
Soulati

No question, she's cute. The director of the shoot did a great job positioning her that way; she sends that all-American girl message. As said above, I didn't draw a full conclusion until the second campaign catalog came in the mail several weeks later and I saw the same clothing with tall and straight (sophisticated) models and books (those darn books).

Since I have your attention here, Michelle, remember the post I wrote on The SMB Collective about children and BMI screenings in schools? A school nurse wrote in last week and thanked all of us for such a friendly debate. She said she wished the media would be as professional. Each time I wonder about removing that blog, someone finds a post to comment on.

Love that. And, always appreciate your daughter's opinion, too. She shared over at SMB Collective as I recall. Toodles!

Soulati
Soulati

The books. After seeing the nice tall column of books in the second campaign, the books seriously were a problem. Cute and innocent reminds me of children...an adult woman with pigeon toes playing with her hair...well, it projected entirely wrong (oh, yeah, I said that). !

Thanks for coming here, B...no snow for you this past weekend!

Soulati
Soulati

When I first saw the catalog, that series of modeling set off a chord. So, I tore out the pages to save. Then, several weeks later, another catalog came with a similar clothing line for the put-together models. That's when the light bulb went on, and I knew what struck me wrong.

I appreciate your support, as always. Everyone is entitled to opinions, and I respect Matt for his.

Michelle Quillin
Michelle Quillin

Hi, Matt! I appreciate your comment, because I have a similar gut reaction to folks who whine and complain about their lives, if they're not doing everything in their power to change things. (Confession: However, I repeat to myself, over and over again, "There but for the grace of God go I" & endeavor to help, not scorn. I have an ugly self-righteous streak that needs constant reproving.)

However, Jayme didn't complain here about her weight. Quite the contrary. She's expressed complete comfort in her skin. She's beautiful, confident, powerful, professional, organized, strong, spirited, ambitious, athletic, driven, and highly intelligent. The image of the Land's End model? None of those things. You see, Jayme represents a segment of the plus-sized women's market, & because of that, her opinion will be valued by those who are marketing to her.

Honestly, even the term "Plus-sized" is offensive, isn't it? 

Soulati
Soulati

Hi, Matt. Thanks for coming here and expressing your opinion because everyone has them. I'm confused, however, as to your reaction. I invite your further dialogue so this community can understand where you're coming from.

Because my profession is marketing, it's my job to review, analyze and offer commentary about others' bodies of work.

Mike Poynton
Mike Poynton

I don't think you're sexist. Marketing experts grapple with these issues in advertising on a daily basis. It's not easy. Nor is it a perfect world. Keep writing!