Stretch marks are something that every woman no matter how slim or athletic will find somewhere on her body, they are a sign of normal growth during puberty, pregnancy, weight gain and muscle development. Despite this, for years stretch marks have been photoshopped out in fashion shoots, giving the impression of unrealistically flawless skin. Finally however, the fashion and beauty world is starting to open its eyes, acknowledging that perfection and beauty aren’t the same thing, and showing women as they actually are.
The trend of publishing product shots featuring models with visible stretch marks was started back in 2014 by Aerie, American Eagle’s Lingerie branch. This gave the brand a huge following of body positive customers who could more easily relate to the models wearing the clothes. Now it seems like finally other big brands are following their lead!
In June ASOS began using unretouched models for their swimsuit images, something which got tremendous praise globally.
Excitingly, a few weeks ago Missguided also joined this body positive movement with an Instagram post of a model wearing velvet lingerie. They have since given the model herself a chance to speak out against criticism, in a comment full of self-confidence and acceptance of her stretch marks:
Missguided’s head of brand, Samantha Helligsø also released this statement: “As a brand, we feel we have a strong sense of social responsibility to support young women and inspire confidence. So we’re on a mission to do just that by showing our audience it’s okay to be yourself, embrace your ‘flaws,’ celebrate individuality, and not strive for what the world perceives as perfection. Because basically, it doesn’t exist. By showing imagery that’s real and authentic, we want to show it’s more than okay to be yourself. All you have is what you’ve got, so own it every day.”
It is not just stretch marks on show, but other natural features that previously were considered imperfections, such as birthmarks, arm hair and moles, leaving the models and the products still looking amazing, but now a whole lot more real and authentic.
In a world that is becoming more accepting of plus-size models, and models from different ethnic backgrounds, showing stretch marks and other skin features is another important step to help make the fashion industry more accessible, relatable and empowering for the average woman. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go before every big brand follows this trend, but with fashion goliaths like ASOS and Missguided promoting natural beauty, it is likely that in the coming months other companies will stop retouching their models in product shots. Once enough brands make this change, featuring unretouched models will become the norm as opposed to a point of praise.