TIME Body Image

Bye, Bye, Barbie: 2015 Is the Year We Abandon Unrealistic Beauty Ideals

Cali Girl Barbie waves from the front seat of a Chevy SSR du
Cali Girl Barbie waves from the front seat of a Chevy Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Barbie sales figures continue to drop, unrealistic ideals are losing clout both in the toy and fashion world

It may be time for Mattel to roll out Retirement Barbie. Friday morning, the toy-maker announced that the doll’s sales dropped 16% in 2014, marking Barbie’s third consecutive year of falling earnings.

“The reality is, we just didn’t sell enough Barbie dolls,” CEO Bryan Stockton explained to investors last January, following Mattel’s disappointing 13% drop for 2013. The decline of the company’s premier product lead in part to Stockton’s resignation on Monday. But a corporate shakeup might not be enough to counteract the almost 56-year-old doll’s waning allure. The problem might not be sales strategies, but rather the doll and the impossibly slim body ideals she represents.

The push for more realistic, “body positive” images of girls has been gaining momentum over the least year and not just in toys. In 2014, Barbie sales plummeted, while a doll with an average woman’s proportions gained viral success; full-bodied models were integrated into high fashion campaigns without fanfare; e-retailer ModCloth announced an anticipated doubling of its sales after introducing plus sizes; the single All About That Bass which celebrates curvy bodies became such a commercial success that, no, you will never get it out of your head; and Kim Kardashian’s famously ample butt broke the internet.

After decades of false starts, maybe we are finally ready to move away from unattainably slim ideals.

Fashion: Plus Size Integration Isn’t a Passing Trend

When we think of lingerie ads, winged Victoria’s Secret Angels flutter through our minds. But in November, alone, three high fashion institutions displayed a fuller understanidng of feminine beauty.

Seductively posed in a rubber leotard, Candice Huffine debuted as the first plus-size model to be featured in Pirella’s prestigious calendar in December:

A Vogue online gallery featured sexy lingerie starred women with F rather than B cup sizes. “Going into this, we assumed that the beautiful, delicate, lacy bras that we all prefer would only be available in the smaller cup sizes, but we were thrilled to find a real wealth of options for a huge variety of body shapes,” editor Jorden Bickham tells TIME in an email.

And Calvin Klein used Myla Dalbesio in its “Perfectly Fit” underwear campaign. Dalbesio, a size 10, told Elle, “It’s not like [Calvin Klein] released this campaign and were like ‘Whoa, look, there’s this plus-size girl in our campaign.’ They released me in this campaign with everyone else; there’s no distinction. It’s not a separate section for plus-size girls.” (This interview incited misappropriated backlash against CK when the Twitterverse thought Dalbesio was incorrectly cast under the “plus size” category — she wasn’t).

While the internet reacted to the seamless integration of fuller bodied models into these campaigns, the models were presented by designers without fanfare.

“There were no big tamborines, no big calling out of the size thing,” Emme, widely regarded as the first plus-size supermodel (even though she eschews the moniker), tells TIME. “It’s just so old. Saying ‘Oh she’s plus size, yippee!’ and making a big deal of that.”

Tess Holliday

Although there was certainly fanfare when size 22 model Tess Holliday was signed to MiLK Model Management last week — making her the first model of her size to ever be represented by a major agency.

“It was unheard of, I never even tried to get with an agency,” Holliday, 29, tells TIME. “One of my friends even said, ‘Isn’t it crazy that you’re in the news for being the biggest plus size model when you’re the true size of a plus size woman.'” Holliday says that the average plus size model is between size 8 and 10, even though the average plus size woman is bigger. “There has always been an issue with [designers] using smaller plus size models and if they wanted one who was a little bit bigger or curvier, they would pad her because they said they couldn’t find good quality models above a size 16.”

In the past, Holliday was barred from castings due to her size. But in the past week, Holliday says at least designers who refused to work with her in the past have now called to book her for a job. “If they want me then they’ll pay for it.”

Many of Holliday’s critics complain that she sets an unhealthy example for women, but the model notes that she is active, has a trainer, and works out at least four times a week. It should also be noted that just as skinniness does not connote healthiness, being a plus size doesn’t connote unhealthiness.

While Holliday is currently an anomaly, Muse Model Management president Conor Kennedy tells TIME that the fashion industry opening its doors to a variety of body sizes is a consistent movement rather than a “flavor in the moment” passing trend.

Vogue

“A few years ago there was a little burst where there was an Italian Vogue cover”—in which plus-size models seductively posed over… spaghetti—”and then V Magazine did a shoot, and then it tailored off,” he says. “The past two years it’s very different because there are all types of editorials. I think that the next breakthrough we are looking for are campaigns, and we’re starting to see it now.” Curvier celeb cover subjects like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez are also changing perceptions in the fashion industry.

Kennedy has noticed increased excitement on the creative side of the industry over a diversity of sizes as a desirable aesthetic choice and greater openness in castings.

“But there’s an evolution on both sides of the spectrum,” he says. “It’s also a great thing for business.”

Retailers Finally Recognize an Untapped Market

Clothing makers are finally beginning to understand that if they increase their offerings — and we’re talking fashionable offerings rather than an increased muumuu selection — in the “plus size” category, it will be beneficial to their bottom line. With the “average” American woman wearing a size 14, that’s potentially 100 million potential customers.

“It’s a huge market and it’s totally underserved” ModCloth co-founder Susan Gregg Koder told CNBC.

When Koder decided to expand the e-retailer’s plus size division, she reached out to 1,500 vendors for help — and only 35 responded. But a year into the expansion, with 100 vendors on board, Koder told Business Insider that she expected sales to double in 2014.

According to the market research firm NPD Group, plus-size clothing sales increased 5% last year to $17.5 billion. E-retailers are taking advantage of this rise. In December, plus size fashion e-retailer ELOQUII raised $6 million in Series A funding. But brick and mortar retailers still have room for improvement.

But the quality must improve as well because, at the moment, full bodied women are searching for — but often not finding — fashionable outfits that go up to their size. Stylist Sal Perez explained the difficulties in trying to dress Rebel Wilson for her role in Pitch Perfect 2 to the New York Times.

“I am horrified by some of the clothes I find in the stores,” she said. “I don’t know anyone who enjoys wearing polyester.”

Target premiers its plus-size line

After interacting with six different designers who wouldn’t dress her for the Oscars, Melissa McCarthy decided to launch a fashion label of her own that will offer both plus and “regular” size clothing.

Larger retailers are finally getting the message as well. In mid-February, Target will launch a plus-size line called Ava & Viv that is designed specifically for “the plus-size woman who loves fashion.”

“Women want to go shopping together,” Emme says. “If you eliminate the plus size department that’s always in the basement or next to maternity, and you increase the numbers of 14, 16 and 18’s, you are going to make more money than you have ever made.”

To illustrate her point, Emme recalls a plus-size fashion show she attended with her daughter at Macy’s. At the end of the show, the 13-year-old asked if Emme thought a particular dress came in her size — she didn’t see it as undesirable for a larger demographic, but as beautiful clothing displayed on a beautiful model who she would like to replicate.

“A lightbulb went off,” Emme says. “I don’t think the younger generation sees it as size. They see beauty as it is.”

The End of Barbie

New trends in toy sales serve as fiscal evidence that children also want natural, realistic beauty — rather than unattainable ideals. Barbie, who has seen her share of criticism for being an anatomically impossible mutant, is losing her clout among girls–and their parents. As people stopped buying Barbies, they crowd-funded an alternative to the tune of $500,000.

Touted as the “normal Barbie,” Lammily dolls are built to the measurements of an average woman, based on CDC data.

The “normal” Barbie, created by Nickolay Lamm, Lammily

“This is the doll people have been waiting for,” Lamm told TIME when he prepared to ship tens of thousands of dolls to eager backers before the holidays.

“She looks like a regular girl going to school,” a second grader said when she was presented with a Lammily doll.

“She’s not like other dolls,” said another. “She looks real.”

One of the reasons that Lamm was able turn the Lammily doll from a concept to an actual product was because his original sketches of the “normal Barbie” — meant to simply be an art project — went viral. Its traction online indicated to Lamm how thirsty people were to celebrate the beauty of reality.

While #thinspiration and unhealthy body ideals that promote eating disorders or worse certainly exist on social networks, an easily outraged Twitterverse is quick to call companies out for promoting body negative ideology.

People will no longer stand for Victoria’s Secret creating an advertisement that puts the wording “Perfect Body” over a slew of skinny skinny models. The company quietly changed its ads after an onslaught of social media outrage. And, some 20,000 people will sign Charge.org petitions when they find out that Old Navy charges more money for items that come in plus sizes. (The retailer didn’t fully capitulate, but it did change plus size policies.)

Holliday, who started a viral #EffYourBeautyStandards online campaign, attributes her recent signing and burgeoning career to her dedicated social media following. “People aren’t used to seeing someone who is fat and happy,” she says, which could be why her 415,000 Instagram followers so eagerly await her posts.

“It’s not a trend, really — it’s happening,” Emme says. “It’s the tipping point.”

TIME Brands

Fast-Fashion Apparel Giant H&M Opening More Stores as Profit Soars

Shoppers And Retail Economy As German Investor Confidence Jumps
Pedestrians carry Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) branded shopping bags in Mannheim, Germany, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Bloomberg—Getty Images

Swedish retailer says its profit leapt 17% in 2014, plans 400 new stores

Hennes & Mauritz AB, more commonly known as H&M, has announced plans to open 400 new stores in 2015, a move that comes after the Swedish retailer reported profit leapt 17% for the latest year. Here are the most important points from the retailer’s latest earnings report.

What you need to know: H&M, a major powerhouse in the world of retail, is accelerating store opening plans in 2015 and intends to open an additional 400 stores on top of the 3,511 locations it already operates. In 2014, H&M opened 379 new stores. The new store openings for this year will mostly occur in China and the U.S., although H&M said it will debut in several new markets this year, including South Africa, India, and Peru.

The U.S. is the company’s second-largest sales market after Germany, and an important growth market. H&M opened 51 stores in the U.S. last year — that’s more than any other market outside China, where 86 stores were added. Sales in the U.S. leapt 26%, among the better-performing markets for the year ending on Nov. 30, although H&M’s sales grew broadly across all major markets.

H&M is a fast-fashion purveyor that turns around trend designs quickly, taking away business from teen-focused retailers and other rivals that take a longer time to respond. Sales growth in the U.S. has far outpaced those reported by Gap, for example, while teen retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch have seen their businesses suffer a bruising decline as tastes have changed in favor of H&M and rival Forever 21.

The big number: Profit for the full year after taxes totaled 19.98 billion Swedish kroner ($2.4 billion in U.S. currency), up 17% from a year ago. H&M gave an early indication that sales growth will continue to remain strong early in 2015, with sales up 15% in December and expected to rise 14% in January.

What you might have missed: H&M also unveiled a plan to launch a new beauty concept with an initial debut in about 900 stores and online beginning this fall. The new concept will comprise of a range of make-up, body care, and hair care items, and will replace H&M’s current own-brand cosmetics line. H&M didn’t say much about the line, or why it was changing its strategy in beauty, although the move is the latest step by the apparel chain to diversify its product range.

H&M last year debuted a sport-focused line, and also expanded the amount of shoes it sold in some of its stores. Sportswear, which has been an increasingly popular apparel trend that has boosted results for Nike and Under Armour in the U.S., has lured H&M, Forever 21, and other rivals that haven’t traditionally focused on that category. For example, H&M’s U.S. online store lists 124 items for women under sportswear, selling a range of clothes meant for the gym or even to be worn more casually, and not necessarily for athletic purposes. That’s a dominant trend in retail today, as yoga pants take the place of jeans for everyday wear (in one of many examples).

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME obituary

Shoe Designer Vince Camuto, Nine West Co-Founder, Dies at 78

2014 Father Of The Year Awards
Vince Camuto attends the 2014 Father Of The Year Awards at the New York Hilton on June 4, 2014 Slaven Vlasic—Getty Images

Camuto had been battling cancer

Legendary women’s footwear designer Vince Camuto, who co-founded shoe company Nine West Group, has died in Connecticut at age 78.

Camuto died Wednesday at his home in Greenwich, said Matthew Murphy, director of the Fred D. Knapp & Son Funeral Home, which is handling the arrangements. Camuto had been battling cancer.

The designer is best known for co-founding Nine West Group in 1978. He served as creative director there for two decades and was named CEO in 1993. Nine West was sold in 1999 to Jones Apparel Group.

Camuto founded the Camuto Group, which owns his namesake footwear line, in 2001. The company also licensed products for Tory Burch, BCBG and others.

The privately held company, based in Greenwich, did not respond to multiple calls and emails seeking comment on Thursday.

The designer, whose products are sold at the company’s own stores and other retailers, expanded his fashion empire to include clothing, accessories and fragrances.

TIME Body Image

Target Is Launching a Plus-Size Fashion Line Women Actually Might Want to Wear

"It's good to know that a brand is listening"

In August, blogger Chastity Garner wrote a compelling takedown of Target — announcing her decision to boycott the retailer for failing to offer its popular designer collections in plus sizes.

That boycott is coming to an end.

On Wednesday Target announced Ava & Viv, a new fashion brand designed specifically for “the plus-size woman who loves fashion.” The line, designed by Target’s in-house team, offers clothing in sizes 14W to 26W and X to 4X and will be available online and in stores come mid-February.

The retailer invited Garner and two other plus-size bloggers to its Minnesota headquarters to sample the line. “It looks beautiful on my body type and my shape,” Garner says in a video chronicling their visit.

In spite of its far from perfect relationship with plus-size fashion — Target’s site displayed plus-size offerings on maternity models and described a plus-size dress as “manatee gray” (the “normal” dress was “dark heather gray”) — its strategy thus far with the Ava & Viv line could actually teach other retailers about how to better approach selling plus-sized clothing.

First of all, Target is emphasizing that the clothing line will make trendy design choices a priority.

“This guest is really a fashion-forward woman who happens to be a plus size,” merchandising SVP Stacia Andersen told Women’s Wear Daily. “When we put out pieces that stand out a little more, items that are more chic, more trend-driven and more statement in nature, they tended to perform.”

Even though though the plus-size demographic makes up 37% of U.S. consumers, it only makes up 15% of the clothing industry’s sales because most labels don’t design for the lucrative market, Fast Company reports.

And when they do design plus-size clothing, the available styles are rarely fashion forward.

“I am horrified by some of the clothes I find in the stores,” stylist Sal Perez explained told New York Times when explaining her difficulties in trying to dress Rebel Wilson for her role in Pitch Perfect 2. “I don’t know anyone who enjoys wearing polyester.”

Actress Melissa McCarthy decided to launch a fashion label after interacting with six different designers who wouldn’t dress her for the Oscars.

Target is also selling the clothing at a reasonable price point, between $10 and $79.99. This is a striking contrast to stores like Old Navy, who recently came under fire for charging more for plus-size items.

Marie Claire contributing editor and plus-size blogger Nicolette Mason joined Garner to sample the line and also shared her thoughts in Target’s video.

“It’s good to know that a brand is listening,” she said.

TIME fashion

Benedict Cumberbatch Inspires a Fashion Line Called ‘Cumberbitch’

He's all over you

For $80, obsessed Sherlock fans can wear Academy Award-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s likeness on their legs.

L.A. fashion brand Poprageous, which specializes in pop culture-oriented apparel, has launched a ‘Cumberbitch’ collection ranging from crop tops to leggings, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Prints of Cumberbatch’s face are tiled on the fabric ad infinitum, leaving the British actor within repeating gaze for all his ardent fans.

Go ahead and slip on a slinky pair of Cumberbreeches.

[THR]

TIME fashion

White House Teases Twitter With Obama’s Tan Suit

Critics slammed Obama when he wore the summer suit last August

The White House decided to have a little fun ahead of Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech.

An hour before President Barack Obama began his annual address on major topics like energy, the economy and foreign policy, the official account indicated the President would wear the tan suit that ignited a bit of controversy in August. Some loved it then, but others seemed to hate it.

Turns out, it was a fake-out, as Obama was spotted leaving the White House for the Capitol in a trademark blue suit.

When the tan suit made an appearance last year, social media users and politicians slammed the President’s color choice for its discord with the seriousness of his press briefing’s topic: the threat of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

Many also rushed to his defense, saying Obama has been particularly prone to sartorial bullying, shaming critics for paying more attention to his style than substance.

TIME Style

Celebrate 80 Years of Briefs With 13 Vintage Photos of Men’s Underwear

The first men's briefs were sold on Jan. 19, 1935

Women’s clothes have a — mostly deserved — reputation for being more complicated than men’s. Accordingly, the cultural, social and business histories behind their garments can be fascinating. (Did you know that nylon stockings were once available only in Delaware?)

But that doesn’t mean that the basics of Western menswear don’t have stories of their own. Take, for example, the humble item that has, for 80 years, been the foundation of many an outfit: briefs.

It was Jan. 19, 1935, that the first briefs were sold, in Chicago. According to Shaun Cole’s The Story of Men’s Underwear, Arthur Kneibler of Cooper’s Inc, an underwear company, used an image of a French bathing suit as the model for a new kind of supportive, elastic underwear. Kneibler and his colleagues dubbed the item the Jockey — which would later become the name of the company — in order to conjure images of a jock strap, an athletic undergarment that would have been known to their customers. The item was first displayed in a window at Marshall Field and Company, along with that season’s new undershirt. The item was an immediate success, and Cooper’s added the “y-front” fly opening a few months later.

If that’s not enough proof that the history of men’s underwear is fascinating, take a look at these 13 vintage photos of skivvies from the pre- and post-briefs eras.

TIME fashion

This Smart Mirror Lets You Try On 5 Outfits at Once

The mirror also lets you share looks on social media if you want to get second or third opinion from friends

Even for people who love shopping, the effort of dressing and undressing for hours while trying on clothes can be a bit draining. (It’s not all Champagne and Pretty Woman people!). That’s why Neiman Marcus just started piloting a new “smart mirror” that lets shoppers save looks and compare styles with the wave of a hand.

Called the MemoryMirror, the system can take an image of you in one dress and then let you flip through how the item would look in other colors or patterns. It then saves the shot so you can compare it side-by-side with other outfits and only ever have to try on something once. Bonus: The imaging is so precise that there’s a zoom function—so prepare to see how your butt takes to those jeans in HD.

If you’re one of those shoppers who prefers a second, or depending on your Instagram following, thousands of more opinions before committing, you can also share looks via email or social media.

The mirrors are available to use right now at Neiman Marcus in Walnut Creek outside San Francisco and will be coming to Plano, Texas (north of Dallas) next month. If all goes well, you can look for them at a store in your city in the near future.

Now we just need an invention that can figure out whether those heels will be comfortable after the first hour.

This article originally appeared on FWx.com.

More from FWx.com:

TIME fashion

44 First Lady Fashion Looks from Eleanor Roosevelt to Michelle Obama

This weekend Michelle Obama turns another year older and another year more fashionable. See First Lady fashion from the 1930s to today

Michelle Obama probably has a long list of things she’d like to be remembered forlike her initiatives to combat childhood obesity and promote higher educationbefore she’s remembered for her sense of style. But with great responsibility comes great clothing, and the First Lady will certainly go down as the most fashionable woman in the White House since Jacqueline Kennedy.

Obama is known for choosing the patterned dress over the more subdued pantsuit, for baring her toned arms and—perish the thought—even wearing shorts. And there are some who argue that the choices she makes transcend personal expression and petty analysis and carry a certain amount of cultural significance.

“For some reason in this country there’s this false notion that style and substance have to occupy two separate worlds,” said fashion journalist Kate Betts in an interview with CNN, “and I think she’s proving that that’s wrong.”

According to Betts, author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style, Obama’s style choices convey comfort (the occasional flats), confidence (feminine florals) and relatability (she shops at J. Crew). Her effortless looks, Betts wrote in the New York Times, make it “hard to imagine that there had ever been any dress code for her position.”

As these photos by LIFE photographers show, there hasn’t exactly been a dress code, though styles have historically erred on the conservative side (in terms of hem lines, not party lines). The first ladies’ fashions have both evolved with popular trends and helped to inspire them. Furs, seen on Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower and Lady Bird Johnson, have fallen out of favor in recent decades. Hats, from Truman’s rather vertical design to Kennedy’s pillbox style, are infrequently sported by recent first ladies. Leather, with the exception of Nancy Reagan, shown in 1968 before her First Lady days, has been far from a staple, whereas the simple pearl necklace continues to be a timeless, nonpartisan classic.

While Kennedy’s style was described by LIFE in 1961 as having “an almost deliberate plainness,” Obama does not shy away from a hint of flourish here and there. But she’s certainly not the first to indulge in a bit of flair. When working with a designer on her dress for the inauguration in 1953, Mamie Eisenhower had a few extra requests. “She specified pink and asked for some additional glitter.” Because even the White Houseno, especially the White Housecan use a little sparkle now and then.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME society

See How Beauty Trends Have Transformed Over 100 Years in This Mesmerizing Video

The second in a series

One model. One minute. One hundred years of iconic beauty looks.

Cut.com created a timelapse video that shows a century’s worth of beauty trends on African American model Marshay. This is the second in a series. The first video — same concept but with white model — has been viewed almost 19 million times on YouTube in less than two months.

Watch the two videos side-by-side:

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