A little break from the New York posts: Long term readers may remember that back in 2009, I wrote about the German women’s magazine Brigitte banning professional models in favour of ‘real women’ (the original post is here, and a catch up 9 months later here). I have now discovered that they have a new editor, who has unceremoniously ditched the approach, which as recently as April was being proudly presented as a groundbreaking initiative. They’re not giving up on using amateur models completely, but they will use professional models ‘when it fits the theme’. So it sounds like they are getting ready to phase it out without anyone noticing.
There are two reasons why they’re doing it.
- First, the women they have featured essentially looked like models, as I noted the one time I bought the magazine. They were mostly tall, slim, gorgeous and young, and less conventionally pretty women were used less frequently, and mainly in reportage type articles about careers, cooking etc. Apparently lots of Brigitte readers wrote in and complained about this, saying that the fact that the people featured were gorgeous but also held down successful professional jobs, had 2-5 kids, made them, if anything, feel more inadequate. (If you understand German, this post (written by a model) talks about this issue in some detail)
- Second, working with non-professionals was time consuming and inefficient, because the models had to be scouted, appointments needed to be made around their real lives, and they needed to be trained.
This is basically what I was saying. Being a good professional model takes more than just being really pretty, there is skill and experience involved. And whether you are showing a diverse range of people hasn’t really got anything to do with whether said people are models or not. It’s a shame the this experiment hasn’t worked, but I’m not surprised, since the approach was quite odd and not in line with its supposed aims. I do give them credit for properly trying it for three years though!