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Fashion magazine 'Brigitte' goes model-free

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Photo: DPA
17:49 CEST+02:00
Brigitte, one of Germany's most popular glossy women's magazines, announced on Monday that it will no longer use models in photo spreads in response to changing ideas about beauty.

Instead, the Hamburg-based title published by Gruner+Jahr plans to choose from readers who register online and staff members based on their meaningful qualities other than their dress size.

“Attractiveness has many faces,” editor of the bi-monthly Brigitte Huber said in a statement. “Whether they are actresses, musicians, first ladies or women on the streets of big cities – they all affect fashion and beauty styles.”

The new concept, which Brigitte called “radical,” will start next year and is a response to two different trends, co-editor Andreas Lebert said in the statement.

“Behind the career of a model lies the idea of not showing women themselves, but instead a place holder – a model of a certain size. Now many women find this outdated, especially the beauty ideals, also moulded by the fashion industry, that are highly controversial,” he said, adding that women would prefer to take part in the project.

Dr. Lisa Pecho, a Munich-based psychotherapist and spokesperson for the BFE national professional association for eating disorder treatment experts, told The Local that the Brigitte's new aesthetic is an important step towards changing unrealistic body images.

“I think it's fantastic what they're doing,” she said. “It will serve as a big example.”

According to Pecho, eating disorder experts have recently seen a spike in middle-aged patients trying to maintain weight goals that are a stretch even for women half their age.

And because many of Brigitte's readers are professional women “in the middle of life,” as the magazine describes them, a healthier ideal for them will also be passed on to their daughters, Pecho said.

“This magazine has a huge influence in Germany,” Pecho said. “There are many factors that create eating disorders, but the media is certainly a big one.”

Brigitte, founded in 1954, reports a readership of 3.21 million. According to news agency DDP, the magazine has recently been struggling to maintain readership and may be attempting to ignite interest with the new campaign.

The women who will now be featured in the magazine will receive a similar payment to what Brigitte has paid models.

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While there have been movements to create a minimum body mass index for models to discourage eating disorders in the UK and last year ahead of Berlin's summer fashion week, editor Lebert said he doubted the magazine's decision would revolutionise unrealistic body images in the industry.

But Pecho said Brigitte's initiative, as well as those like Dove's recent ad campaign featuring normal women in the buff, are a step in the right direction to "stir up" damaging trends.

According to DDP, some 600,000 people between 15 and 35 years of age in Germany suffer from anorexia or bulimia. According to research carried out by the Robert Koch Institute, about 22 percent of young people between the ages of 11 and 17 have some kind of eating disorder. Among 17-year-old girls, the number is 30 percent. One in ten people suffering from anorexia dies from the disorder.

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