Brigitte, Germany’s most popular women’s magazine, hasn’t featured a single professional model in three years. Their 2009 decision to use only “real women” in their photos made international headlines; many deemed the move inspirational and groundbreaking in an industry ruled by waif-thin models, airbrushing and Photoshop. But now, as part of a top-to-bottom overhaul being planned by a new editor in chief, the magazine’s publishing house says it may be reconsidering that decision.
Why would Brigitte consider going back on what seemed like such a forward-thinking, self-esteem-friendly promise? According to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, there may be a few reasons. The first is that “real women” with no modeling experience are harder for photographers and stylists to work with, and the process of doing so costs considerably more than simply contracting with a model’s agent. The second issue is that the change simply didn’t boost sales, and that fact has led many to question whether what seemed like an empowering policy was really nothing more than a publicity stunt.
Did seeing “real women” instead of models actually help reduce body image anxieties among Brigitte readers? Interestingly, the answer is no.