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Public editor: How the Style section selects models for its articles

Claudia Grassl/The Globe and Mail

A reader wrote in this week to question last Saturday's Style fashion feature showing a young woman modelling a variety of bathing suits at a swimming hole.

"I was really surprised to see such a young (or at least young-looking) model for the bathing suit spread this weekend. I find ... the sexualization of girls and young women very disturbing and do not support The Globe in its promotion. On a more practical level, does this model reflect the age and body type of your reader?"

Let's first deal with part one of the question. Danny Sinopoli, editor of The Globe's Style section, said the one woman is a 23-year-old student at the University of Texas. The bathing suits being modelled were not overly sexual and in fact the theme of the fashion shoot was explained on the front page headline: "Gone are the heavily embellished maillots and bikinis of swimwear seasons past." They were in fact suits you could swim in and that is why the photos were shot at a swimming hole, in or near the water. The model has a healthy body – no protruding ribs – and in fact she looks like she is ready for a swim, he said.

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To address the reader's second part of the question (whether the model reflects the age and body type of the average reader), the answer is clearly no. But then, models generally offer an aspirational view of how we would like clothes and swimsuits to look. Danny noted that the Style editors often ask agencies for help in finding more mature women. The section often uses non-models and in the past year there have been many examples: a fashion article on mothers and daughters showing well-known personalities, a beauty spread with musicians in the Cecilia Quartet, a fashion feature showing celebrity designers, and the recent Globe Style Advisor magazine with singer Rosette on its front cover.

If you have concerns about this or anything else in The Globe and Mail, please e-mail me at publiceditor@globeandmail.com

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