I frequently dread online shopping. Every single thing I tend to buy (and subsequently return) I know never looks on me the way it does on the model. The tops are ill-fitting, the trousers too long and don’t even get me started on the voluptuous maxi-dresses. I know this is because I am not a model. And those that are models are hard-working and trying to make a living, so it’s not their fault that I see image after image of women with mostly unattainable figures or that their bodies are usually airbrushed to Barbie doll-like proportions. It is the way of things, but I see unretouched bodies so rarely that sometimes the thought of mine makes me never want to go on a beach holiday again.
But, after what seems an eternity of being Photoshopped out of existence, at least some retailers are finally acknowledging that stretch marks exist and that they have existed on our bodies forever. We almost never see them on actual human bodies – it took a Kendrick Lamar music video to remind people that most women have them. So, ASOS shoppers were pleasantly surprised to notice the online mega-retailer using unretouched swimwear models with their stretch marks on show.
— Amy (@amyrowlandsx) June 28, 2017
WELL DONE ASOS faint stretch marks and acne scars that aren’t hidden pic.twitter.com/yTrRgQr2UL
— olive (@OliviaTuffrey) March 13, 2016
Asos not editing out girl’s stretch marks on their swimwear photos is giving me so much life, look how beautiful they all are pic.twitter.com/VxMjc4OQg6
— Leah Tudor (@leahtudorx) June 28, 2017
It does seem strange that this should be a cause for celebration but after years of being desensitised and observing only smooth, perfectly toned body parts – it started on MTV and has reached peak ridiculousness on Instagram – it’s important to acknowledge that yes, we’re seeing this and more importantly, that we need to see more of this. We need to see a shift in the way we talk about and see women’s bodies, and it’s small acts like this that signal change. Not every woman you see on a poster or indeed, a shopping website has to be relatable, and it’s not about banning Photoshop, but we need to start seeing a broader spectrum of women faces and bodies. Without that, we’ll never be able to broaden our definition of beauty or make any feel dent in the fight for diversity.
Yes, they are still beautiful models, but just like the rest of us, they get stretch marks. Something I’ll remind myself of just before I don my swimsuit at the beach.