Will Michelle Mone | Ultimo Lingerie Change Body Image Debate?

In a startling departure from its former hot lingerie model-driven lingerie campaigns, British brand Ultimo has launched a ‘real women’ campaign as the face of Fall 2010. The ads support a new product launch for “all shapes and sizes.”

Aged between 20 and 53, and with dress sizes ranging from 8 to 18, the unknowns were chosen through a search for on social networking site Facebook, reports the Daily Mail UK.  

In a strategy fraught with emotion and hate mail already, Ultimo steps into Dove’s Real Women campaign shoes, inheriting an existing halo effect among some women.

Ultimo founder Michelle Mone — on the end far right in above photo — says ‘Ultimo Couture dresses are designed for real women, so it made complete sense for us to feature real women in the brand’s first campaign.

There are business risks associated with the campaign, one that relies on making over real women in their current size, with properly fitting lingerie. The Europeans, much moreso than the Americans, understand the critical importance of lingerie in conveying a woman’s best assets in her appearance.

The potential critical downside of criticism levelled at the Ultimo strategy — already evident in the comments — can be offset by a dramatic increase in free PR and a built-in Facebook bonanza. Already, we’re reading local coverage of each woman — as if she has become an American Idol star overnight. One can’t calculate the financial value of the press coverage, which will also continue because we all like a hometown celebrity.

Michelle Mone’s Weight Loss

We will pick up this thread of conversation in my new sensual vitality column but want to call out another important fact about the campaign. Ultimo founder Michelle Mone has lost weight in the past year, returning to modeling herself. Read Daily Mail May 24, 2010.

Ultimo lingerie founder Michelle Mone talks about her major weight loss.

In English sizes, Michelle Mone was a size 18-20, weighing 17 stone. Now she is back to a 10-12 and weights 11 stone, saying she’s never felt better in her life. A stone is 14 pounds, so we’re talking a dramatic weight loss for Michelle Mone.

From a business and relating to women perspective — one reflected in my decision to post my unpublished manuscript about find “la dolce vita” online — I sense an “we’ve had it” attitude among some women about the challenges of fashion.

The last decade’s desire of the fashion industry to make women anorexic as a beauty standard is lethal to women’s self-esteem. This change was not the Victoria’s Secret world I lived in from 1987-1996, where models like Stephanie Seymour, Naomi Campbell and all the supermodels were thin but sensual.

Most of all, the real Supermodels (we use the term loosely now) had toned bodies, busts and hips associated with the female form. Womena are not boys, whatever the sexual preferences of the industry that designs for them.

Indeed, British and American women are disproportionately obese and we must work to get women healthy again. But to suggest that a beauty standard is a BMI of 17 with no hips or breasts, and every model should look like this has done incalculable damage to women’s self-esteem.

When women loathe the person in the mirror, we eat more. This is what fashion has taught us in the last 20 years.

Having lost weight myself and fought for a positive body image, I believe that women like Michelle Mone must step up to the plate for all women. Watch how this issue evolves, because I do believe that many women who are leaders on this topic are saying ‘enough’.

Michelle Mone, founder of Ultimo, returns to modeling after weight loss.We must get healthy in America and around the world. But women cannot become healthy when we don’t love the woman in the mirror and the body we own.

It seems that Michelle Mone is putting her own evolution back to self-love into play in the Ultimo campaign. We view her strategy as excellent and one that could core big in England and America.  Anne

Sensual and Superyoung

In our new lineup you will find me — Anne —  in third person:

Sensual Health | scientific articles about sexuality, sensual aging, and even Martha Stewart’s food fantasies 

Sensual Vitality Blog | quickies that track Anne’s view of new research and cultural news about sensuality

Sensual and Superyoung | the book, a work in process

Love Food | sometimes called aphrodisiacs, we’re building a scientific list of the key sensual wellness benefits of eating nature’s bounty and avoiding fast food on every street corner

Love Food Recipes | Only healthy, sensually-nourishing, libido-enhancing recipes from the world’s best chefs and kitchen-bloggers. 

Bad News Food |  confronting food facts is another key part of our food science approach to vitality, sensual wellness and being Superyoung.  No political correctness allowed. This is science.

Anne’s Original Journal | She’s back!!! Now scattered throughout the pages of Anne of Carversville, we’ve pulled Anne’s soul and psyche back together, when the topic is her own road to self-actualization.

Readers have asked for Anne to be put back together in one piece. We responded with promises that she will fill in more life blanks going forward.