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Eating Recovery Center In The News: Examiner.com

Chief Marketing Officer Julie Holland, MHS, CEDS is the National Eating Disorders Examiner. Read an exceprt from her blog on how retail clothing chains impact our perceptions of "ideal" size and body shape, or to read it in its entirety, click here. The average American woman is a size 12 or 14, yet the normal size of a mannequin in a retail store is a size 4 or 6. Like it or not, retail clothing chains impact our perceptions of “ideal” size and body shape; and recently, two of these retailers were in the news for their stances on this very topic. Last month, H&M, an international clothing retailer, made headlines with a swimsuit ad featuring plus-size model Jennie Runk. While some critics disparaged H&M for this ad, as well as its use of size 12 mannequins in H&M’s retail stores, the company received significant positive attention and support for using Runk as a normal model in its pervasive ad campaigns, and not just in content to specifically promote its plus-size styles. Conversely, national teen clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch recently came under scrutiny when the fact the retailer does not stock women’s XL or XXL sizes came to light. A Business Insider article succinctly organizes the philosophy of the brand, which has been clearly articulated by CEO Mike Jeffries on several occasions. Simply put, Abercrombie & Fitch wants the good-looking, “cool kids” as clientele and the company does not believe that plus-sized individuals can be cool or good-looking. The brand’s stance on the definition of beauty and who deserves to wear its clothing stands in sharp contrast to that of several competitors, who not only offer sizes XL and XXL but are also increasingly developing plus-size fashion lines. Compared to sales and brand awareness, fostering healthy body image in women and teenage girls may not rank among the top priority for clothing retailers. However, these businesses would be wise to be thoughtful about and take responsibility for the messages they communicate to consumers, particularly young Americans. For example, H&M’s use of Runk as a swimsuit model debunks the stereotypical image of a model, equates health and beauty, and encourages women and girls to accept their bodies, no matter the size. Abercrombie & Fitch, on the other hand, has brazenly adopted a stance on sizing that promotes an exclusionary, unrealistic beauty ideal and sends a potentially dangerous message to women and girls of different shapes and sizes, particularly those millions of Americans who are predisposed to developing an eating disorder.

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