Although also in Poland obsessive striving for physical perfection at all costs has been dicussed for years now, the year 2017 seems to be crucial in this debate. Women in mainstream slowly go beyond the ethically and politically correct statements that beauty „doesn’t know the size”, and at the same time they celebrate losing a few pounds. Girls really start to rule.
In June 2017, the journalists of Wysokie Obcasy launched the „Body Ready for the Beach” campaign not only with a series of articles on a positive attitude towards own physicality, but also … with a photo of the female part of the editorial staff in bathing suits – without any retouch. They revealed wrinkles, scars and other shortcomings, which are an integral part of every body, but are usually hidden by graphic artists. Although some of the best writers of Polish journalism have been immortalized in the photograph, even they demonstrated lack of self-confidence when exposed to the readers’ evaluation. WO action did not trigger a wave of support for the initiative in the media, but it stirred up public opinion. In the Polish blogosphere, Agata Ma Nosa joined the action by publishing a picture on her Instagram in her underwear with a campaign hashtag. In total, 384 posts have appeared on Instagram bearing the hashtag #bodyreadyforthebeach.
„Miss World” 2017, a calendar created by Areta Szpura and Karolina Słota of Local Heroes brand, who invited photographer Zuza Krajewska, was met with much more intense resonance. Beautiful, artistic photos present women who don’t comply with the accepted canons of fashion and break cultural and aesthetic taboos as well. Models presenting consecutive months have hairy armpits, cross-eye, big buttocks, cluttered bathrooms and dirty balconies. While the WO campaign triggered a rather small, but mainly positive reaction, the Local Heroes calendar upset, disgusted and shocked the vast majority of respondents, but also gained immense support of the pro feminist part of the nation.
Literally a few days ago a new advert by Diesel started gaining popularity on Facebook. We see models walking to Edith Piaf’s tune: with unibrow (surpassing even Frida Kahlo!), small breasts, braces or cross-eye. The brand sends a clear message: You don’t have to be perfect to wear our clothes. In addition, the film’s fantastic setting ( Edith’s gorgeous voice, dynamic editing, perfect actors, exquisite shots and mesmerizing images combining the timeless imperfection of humans) position the discussion of the worthless cult of non-existent beauty at high aesthetic level (sic!), accessible to an average recipient, not just the artsy gourmet, advertisement researchers or cultural anthropologists.
As if sensing the trend, TVN channel has narrowed the autumn schedule by removing „Top Model”, while Polsat has expanded its own with „Supermodel Plus Size” show, where girls need to wear at least size 42 to compete. Has the program been met with positive reception? It is hard to say, because the official FB page has only 11 thousand fans, who practically don’t post any content below the updates. Katarzyna Czajka-Kominiarczuk from the Zwierz Poppulturalny blog has written pieces on „Supermodel…” and the reviews of initial episodes appeared also on Spider’s Web portal.
Katarzyna Kryszk-Mleczko (a plus size model at Maxilook agency and the crator of Marionetka Mody blog) believes that such programs are needed: „Every woman is beautiful, it’s followed by self-confidence and self-care, and „Supermodel … ” shows just that. It’s a shame though, that the program formula is based on girls with traumatic stories, not just on modelling and predispositions to work as a model.” On the other hand, Daria (a sociology student working in a cafe) says she doesn’t enjoy the show because it „shows irrationally obese people and omits those wearing the most common sizes: between 36 and 40. That way, we go from one extreme to another, ignoring balance and moderation.” But they both hope that with the upcoming episodes the program will progress in a different direction.
On 2 August 2017 over 3 million recipients in Poland (organic reach!) saw a Facebook entry by Monika from Dr Lifestyle blog, where the author „greeted with her middle finger” the Inditex clothing brands. Although she wears regular size 38, she eats healthily and trains regularly (as she is communicating on her channels), she was unable to fit in a size 42 trousers. Her post triggered an avalanche of reactions. Some were outraged, others were astounded. At least some of the comments under Monika’s post are worth seeing, as they illustrate how deeply ideal slim figure is rooted in our consciousness, the shape which must be matched at all costs.
While many women confessed under Dr Lifestyle’s post that they aren’t able to find clothes in larger sizes, Kasia Kryszk-Mleczko looks to the industry with optimism: „I dress in thrift shops mostly, but I also like H&M , where dresses and blouses even in regular line are quite big. Mango has cool xl collections, too. And KappAhl, where they love bigger girls and don’t dress us in bags.”
All these phenomena, though sporadic and non-synchronized, show that the trend is changing and now the girls are going to rule – the ordinary, having better and worse times. How about You?