Rosemary Mac Cabe

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Debenhams embraces diversity with new campaign

Debenhams’ latest campaign includes young and old, black and white, an amputee and a Paralympian – but will this change stick?

Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 07:30


Debenhams has released brand new imagery for its latest campaign that features a full array of shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages and bodies, from a 69-year-old woman to an amputee and a Paralympic athlete.

This isn’t anything remarkably new from Debenhams; Marks & Spencer has gone down the route of diversity in several of its campaigns, and a TV programme searching for an amputee model was aired on Channel 4 a few years back. But will it make any difference?

What will really be the proof of the pudding is whether or not Debenhams will keep this up. M&S has embraced diversity on the regular, but diversity with quite a narrow definition, which is somewhat oxymoronic. In M&S’s books, Twiggy’s role is as the older model, Myleene Klass’s is as the curvy (?!) model. But that’s pretty much as far as it goes - age and “curves” notwithstanding, M&S’s models are all beautiful and, y’know, modelesque.

Attempts to make waves in the fashion industry will always be welcomed; as Caroline Issa said, it’s a far from perfect place. But it’ll be a long wait to see if these waves are freak weather incidents, or serious tidal shifts.

I also always feel sorry for the plus-size model who gets plonked beside the teeny tiny model. Can’t we just get two average-sized girls and show how average can be beautiful too? What about the size 10 to 12 girls with no boobs?