Beauty, as the saying goes, is in the eyes of the beholder. Today, many are finding something beautiful in Nordstrom and J.C. Penney's use of "real people" in their marketing and merchandising efforts.
Nordstrom has gotten a lot of positive press for featuring Jillian Mercado, a wheelchair bound model who suffers from muscular dystrophy, in its summer catalog along with other unconventional modeling choices including: Alex Minsky, an military veteran who lost a leg while serving in Afghanistan; Shaholly Ayers, born with the lower half of her right arm missing; and Emilia Taguchi, a seven-year-old girl with Down Syndrome.
Tara Darrow, a spokesperson for Nordstrom told The Associated Press, that its choice of models was "about reflecting the customers and communities we serve. We serve diverse customers and it's an opportunity for them to see themselves when they're looking through the book or online."
J.C. Penney has also gotten positive attention for its use of mannequins inspired by people of different body types. The department store purchased five mannequins for display in the windows of its Manhattan Mall store that were based on Dawna Callahan, a woman who is confined to a wheelchair due to paralysis; Neil Duncan, a Army paratrooper who lost both his legs in Afghanistan; Ricardo Gill, who has dwarfism; Beth Ridgeway, a plus-sized mother; and Desiree Hunter, a college basketball player who is six-foot-one-and-a-half inches tall.
"We've been fitting the diversity of America for over 100 years; we've been doing it broadly across the country for a long time. We understand, and we like to say 'fit is our super power,'" Debra Berman, senior vice president of marketing for Penney, told WCNC in Charlotte.
Are consumers more or less open to the use of real people in advertising efforts today than in the past?