Jennie Runk, H&M’s new swimsuit model, is making headlines because of her size – a healthy 12 – and also the fact that she’s not even labeled plus-size.
The fact that she is technically a “plus-size” model but the ubiquitous and stigmatizing term is absent from catalogs speaks volumes about the brand.
Her section isn’t labeled “Plus-Size Beachwear.” Just beachwear.
Jennie Runk models items ranging from sizes 14 to 24, the only clue alluding to the collection’s larger sizing is a small “+” sign to the right of H&M’s logo.
For women size 12 or above, it’s a rare and refreshing thing to see themselves marketed to without negative connotation and as the target demo.
“Thank you so much for using Jennie Runk as your covergirl. That you did so without calling attention to her shape makes it all the more commendable,” wrote one admirer.
“I love seeing a girl with my body type not only represented on your site but represented without fanfare,” wrote another of the 24-year-old Runk.
Jennie herself told Vogue Italia this year that she is “looking forward to the day that ‘plus-size’ doesn’t exist any more … it’s getting a little old fashioned.”
Runk, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, says she actually stopped dieting and gained 20 pounds to become a plus-size model.
“Plus-sized models are not actually plus-sized women, we’re just bigger than the average model,” she said, noting that many think “plus-size” is over Size 4.
Runk says she is “confident, happy and healthy” at a size closer to the national average of 12, and that “I think every woman should be represented equally.”
“We’re trying to create a movement for every woman to love and embrace her body no matter what kind of body she has,” she explained of the shoot.
“So much of advertising portrays only one kind of body, super tall and skinny.”
“It goes beyond plus-size. I think not only should there be more plus-sized models in fashion, there should also be more petite, pregnant, ethnic, etc.”