Recently, a photograph went viral on a Facebook page called Women’s Rights News. The photo was of two fuller figured mannequins in Sweden, with nothing on but purple boy shorts and matching bras. I loved that these mannequins were causing such a stir, and was talking about them to my 18 year old son’s friend, Astrid Risberg. Astrid is an exchange student from Sweden, going to my son’s high school this year.
I asked if she remembered the curvy mannequins and mentioned that I thought the mannequins were from H&M. I found out that was not the case. The mannequins were from a store called, Ahlens, not H&M. In fact, Astrid went on to tell me about an ad campaign that H&M did promote last summer in Sweden. In this particular campaign, the models were ridiculously thin, and ridiculously tanned.
Astrid and her friends thought this ad campaign did not promote a healthy body image for women, so they took action. They created stickers and proceeded to put them on bus and billboard ads. The stickers said things like: “Come on, just stop!” “We are tired of seeing this!” and “H&M, pull yourself together!”
I loved what Astrid and her friends did in response to this ad campaign. They “pushed back” and I respect that so much. Astrid told me later, “It was a cool experience, putting the stickers up, because lots of people (especially older people) got angry at us, because they felt we were “littering”. But then we would talk to them and explain how, as teenage girls, those images were not okay to us and they were really provoking. It bothered us that H&M would promote such unhealthy ideals (skinny, extremely tanned and so on) and we believed they were wrong. Ultimately, everyone was very supportive about what we were doing. It was mentioned in the newspaper and on the radio. I think we put up around 500 stickers, maybe more.”