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H&M CEO says company's models are 'too skinny,' should be 'sound and healthy'

Published: Saturday, Aug. 1 2015 1:25 p.m. MDT

Karl-Johan Persson, the face and CEO of worldwide clothing company H&M, recently addressed the topic of body image. (Mark Lennihan, Associated Press) Karl-Johan Persson, the face and CEO of worldwide clothing company H&M, recently addressed the topic of body image. (Mark Lennihan, Associated Press)

In the world of fashion, it seems thinner is better. Magazines constantly show images of extremely skinny or photoshopped women who have no "muffin top" and have achieved the goal of a "thigh gap."

Karl-Johan Persson, the face and CEO of worldwide clothing company H&M, recently addressed the topic of body image in a way that starkly contrasted with viral statements made by Abercrombie and Fitch's CEO, Mike Jeffries.

Rather than gearing their line of clothing to the "cool kids," Persson admitted that his company has erred in hiring models who are "too skinny" and that looking healthy is what matters most, especially for a large company that has an influence on young girls.

"We have a huge responsibility here," Persson said in an interview with Metro. "Some of the models we’ve had have been too skinny. That’s something we think a lot about and are working on."

About a month ago, H&M made headlines for releasing a new plus-sized swimsuit line. The line featured Jennie Runk, a 5-foot-10 model who wears a size 12 to 14. Runk has become known for speaking out on body image issues.

"Once I got to really know and love my body, I realized I am the only person who can judge me," Runk said in an interview with ABCNews.

Persson also referred to Runk's new position with the company in his interview.

"In our last campaign we had a somewhat more buxom model, and now we’re having Beyoncé, who’s a bit curvier as well," Persson said.

Although Persson's interview was focused mainly on the quality of the company's clothing factories — along with the safety and financial stability of its foreign employees — when asked about the image of the company, Persson insisted that he will only allow "sound and healthy" models.

"I want to feel proud today and when I leave H&M and look back at what we’ve done. I want to feel that we were the just company regarding our social responsibilities: caring about the environment, choice of models, social issues," Persson said.

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