German Magazine Ditches Models for 'Real' Women

Gruner & Jahr Title Will Hold Online Auditions and Use Staffers in Photo Spreads

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LONDON ( -- Brigitte, one of German's most popular glossy women's magazines, has banned models from its pages and will instead use only "real" women in its editorial pages, as a protest against society's obsession with stick-thin women.

Beginning in January 2010, the magazine, published in Hamburg by Gruner & Jahr, plans instead to work with staff members and with readers who are invited to register in an online audition. All the women featured will be identified by their profession or passions in life, in an attempt to combat the objectification of women.

Brigitte Huber, the bimonthly magazine's editor, said in a statement, "Attractiveness has many faces, whether they are actresses, musicians, first ladies or women on the streets of big cities -- they all affect fashion and beauty styles."

While this might look like a cost-cutting exercise, it is in fact a response to two different trends, according to editor in chief Andreas Lebert. He said in the statement, "Behind the career of a model lies the idea of not showing women themselves. Now many women find this outdated, especially the beauty ideals, molded by the fashion industry, that are highly controversial."

Brigitte has a readership of 3.21 million and was founded in 1954. It is aimed at the "middle youth" market of professional women and mothers of school-age children. Mr. Lebert claimed that Brigitte's readers want to see "real" women, but it remains to be seen how the fashion houses and advertisers will view this radical move and whether they will adjust their own images to fit with the Brigitte aesthetic.

The magazine's website announces, "Because beauty has many faces, from now on we will use not models, but women like you and us. What counts is the personality. We invite you to join in. ... Because women do not need a deputy. ... Because clothing is not a matter of trends, but of personality."

In a similar move, a group of French politicians recently proposed legislation demanding that magazines put warnings on airbrushed adverts and photo spreads to alert readers when an image has been retouched to change a person's physical appearance.

Alexander Schulman, the editor of British Vogue, sent out a letter in June appealing to major fashion houses to end the "size-zero" culture, accusing them of forcing magazines to hire models with "jutting bones and no breasts or hips" by supplying only "minuscule" garments for photo shoots.

Two years ago, Spain stipulated a minimum body mass index for catwalk models.

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