Is H&M The High Street’s Trailblazer When It Comes To Body Diversity?

The Swedish brand is quietly championing mid-size models in its advertising campaigns

h&m love stories collaboration

by Hannah Banks-Walker |
Updated on

Not to keep banging the same old drum, but the average UK size for women is a 16. That only becomes something to really think about when you consider the way in which we're all sold clothes. Take, for example, the fact that Nike's new mannequins have prompted a national debate about whether or not the sports brand is 'promoting obesity' – we are so conditioned to see the smallest size possible than anything different feels incongruent. While the fashion industry has made serious strides in catering to a 'plus-size' market, there is still a distinct lack of representation of women's bodies that may be larger than a size 8. H&M, however, is looking to change this.

A few weeks ago, H&M posted an image of a model in a bikini to its Instagram page. The woman in question is, of course, extremely attractive and is slim. She's not, however, the sort of slim we've come to expect from most fashion images. Most refreshingly of all, H&M didn't make a song and dance about this. It wasn't referenced in the caption, it only stated that its new swimwear was now available. The model was not heralded as 'plus-size' – if she had been, the Instagram post would have taken on a very different tone, especially considering the fact that the model, while slightly bigger than most very slim models, is still undoubtedly below that UK average size.

Since then, there have been a number of images cropping up on H&M's Instagram profile featuring other models of a similar shape. Judging by the overwhelmingly positive reaction of many of the brand's followers, this is clearly a very welcome change. Today, the brand launches its swimwear collaboration with Love Stories, using a model who is also perhaps closer to a size 10 than fashion's more ubiquitous size 6-8.

In a statement, the brand said: "H&M proudly celebrates the beauty of diversity in our campaigns. We recognise our responsibility to promote a positive and healthy body image, so it is important to us to work with models with different sizes, looks, styles and backgrounds."

Of course, it's important to emphasise that these models are still slim and able-bodied. But the fact that a major high street brand is working to make such changes quietly, happily ensuring that its representation of women's bodies is more diverse, can only be a good thing. It's the indication that things are changing, a point further illustrated by M&S' Instagram posts featuring a model in underwear. The comments underneath the photographs were full of praise for the brand, as women were quick to rejoice in the fact that the model looked more like them than any other lingerie model they'd seen.

There's clearly still a long way to go when it comes to inclusivity in fashion. But it's promising to see major brands actually put their money where their mouth is and put women of different sizes women in their campaigns, without making it about size at all.

Size is, after all, simply a number.

SHOP: The Best Pieces From The Love Stories Swimclub x H&M Collection


H&M x Love Stories Collection

Ruffle Detail Swimsuit, £34.991 of 10

Ruffle Detail Swimsuit, £34.99

Relaxed Dress, £34.992 of 10

Relaxed Dress, £34.99

Printed Swimsuit With Belt, £24.993 of 10

Printed Swimsuit With Belt, £24.99

Frill Detail Bikini Top, £19.994 of 10

Frill Detail Bikini Top, £19.99

Yellow Printed Bikini Bottoms, £14.995 of 10

Yellow Printed Bikini Bottoms, £14.99

Green Belted Swimsuit, £34.996 of 10

Green Belted Swimsuit, £34.99

Long Sleeved Swimsuit, £39.997 of 10

Long Sleeved Swimsuit, £39.99

Beach Towel, £24.998 of 10

Beach Towel, £24.99

Green Slogan Bikini Top, £17.999 of 10

Green Slogan Bikini Top, £17.99

Green Printed Bikini Bottoms, £12.9910 of 10

Green Printed Bikini Bottoms, £12.99

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us