A leading German women’s magazine praised for dropping skinny models in favour of 'real people' has reversed its decision after two years - because sales dropped as the lbs piled on. This month's e-edition of Brigitte features slimline pro-models again.Think about this. The German magazine, Brigitte, sells almost exclusively to women. The publishers were no doubt assured that eliminating those offensively slender models from the magazine's pages would increase sales, and probably found themselves subject the usual point-and-shame pressure of the sort that women have directed at a wide range of organizations and institutions for the last forty years as well.
This is code for the 'real people' experiment being a failure. During the two year trial over 1,000 women aged between 18 and 68 had been used in fashion and beauty features - 'to give beauty its naturalness back and show that attractiveness has many faces'.
The publishers almost surely believed that by giving women what they were actively demanding, they would benefit from in the form of more positive press and increased sales. They got the more positive press they were expecting, as the media around the world covered their action favorably. But they didn't get the sales; the best-selling magazine that once sold 700,000 copies per month saw that its subscriptions "dropped by nearly 22 per cent while 35 per cent fewer copies were sold in shops".
The magazine would have been in much better shape had its publishers kept this basic principle in mind: women cannot tell you what they want because they do not consciously know what they want. Their desires can only be ascertained by their actions, not their assertions.