jennie runk h&M modelIt's not every day we see a model -- especially a model in a bikini -- whose body reminds us of our best friend, sister, or our very own reflection in the mirror. That's glaringly apparent, given the extreme shock and stunned excitement that's unfolded in response to H&M's choice of Jennie Runk as their 2013 beachwear model. Everyone's jaws have fallen to the ground because ZOMG, the non-plus size brand tapped an attractive woman who's reportedly a size 12 to model swimsuits -- and not even just one-pieces. She's also in a bikini. Stop. The. Presses!

No, but seriously, after being criticized for always using "unhealthily thin" models, H&M decided to feature "a model who can illustrate this collection in an inspiring and clear way." What's more, they didn't even make a concerted effort to rave about Jennie's size. Because it doesn't matter. Good for them -- and great for us!

After all, the more we see images like these -- of a healthy, curvaceous (in the best possible way), beautiful woman in beachwear -- the more apt we are to feel better about ourselves. To feel "normal." And to feel comfortable in our own skin.

As thrilled as I am to see H&M making a move like this, it actually is sad that a campaign like this is still a newsmaker. We shouldn't be shocked to see women who aren't sky-high waifs in bathing suit ads. We should be more accustomed to seeing women who look like us and to think, "Hey, she looks amazing, and so do I."

Really, it kills me just how frequently I hear average-sized, healthy, gorgeous women browbeating themselves for being "fat," "chunky," "X pounds more than I got married," "5, 10, 20 pounds away from goal weight," etc. But maybe the more we see women like Jennie, the more we'll realize that the ideal we've got in our head is unnecessary and unrealistic, and we're being way too hard on ourselves! And that we're perfect just the way we are, whether we're a size 12 or 2.

How do you feel looking at Jennie Runk? Do you think ads like this encourage healthier body image?

 

Image via Ceen Wahren/H&M