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Mannequins Cause Controversy

Posted by on Mar. 15, 2013 at 4:53 AM
  • 82 Replies

Swedish Mannequins Cause a Controversy


An H&M clothing store in Sweden is being hailed by women around the world after a photo of two surprisingly curvy mannequins there were photographed and posted online.

More on Yahoo! Shine: Are These Plus-Size Mannequins Progressive or Just Weird?

Dressed in skimpy lingerie, the mannequins displayed softer stomachs, fuller thighs and generally more realistic proportions than the traditional department store models. For comparison, most mannequins in the U.S. are between a svelte size 4 or 6—a departure from the average American woman who is a size 14.

More on Yahoo! The Mannequins Are Watching You

On Tuesday, a blogger at I Am Bored posted a photo of the mannequins to Facebook and the response was overwhelming. "It's about time reality hit..." wrote out of almost 2,500 commentators. "Anybody saying these mannequins encourage obesity or look unhealthy, you have a seriously warped perception of what is healthy. I guarantee the "bigger" mannequin in the front there represents a perfect BMI" wrote another. As of Thursday, the photo had garnered almost 50,000 likes and shared almost 15,000 times. That's a lot of attention for a hunk of fiber glass and plastic.

Mannequins have been around for thousands of years but their function in fashion is fairly recent, first appearing in store windows in the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution when window panes were installed in stores to display the latest fashion trends. Throughout WW1 and the Depression, mannequins changed their outfits and body proportions to reflect society at that time. Cut to the 1960s, when British mannequin firm Rootstein began modeling their dolls after pop culture and fashion icons to reflect runway trends at the time.

Modern-day mannequins have long been critiqued for having tiny proportions. In 2007, British health officials demanded that stores on London's fashionable High Street stop using stick-thin models in an effort to reflect the wide range of sizes and shapes of British women. In 2010, Club Monaco came under fire for featuring mannequins with protruding spines and clavicles. And in 2011, GAP was chastised by bloggers for mannequins with bone-thin legs modeling the "Always skinny" jeans display. “I'm wondering what the internal project name for this was at Gap HQ,” wrote one blogger. "Death-camp chic’? ‘Ana Pride’? ‘Famine fashion forward?"

And male mannequins haven't escaped scrutiny either. In 2010, Rootstein debuted male dolls under their "Young and Restless" collection modeled after teenage boys with 35-inch chests and 27-inch waists. The company had to defend its decision to use smaller models to eating disorders groups.

As much as the public contests these down-sized mannequins, when designers have attempted to create dolls that reflect real-life proportions they're met with criticism, even disgust. In late 2012, when a Reddit user posted a photo of an "obese mannequin" in satire, commentary ranged from "Ew, fat people", "It's embarrassing how obese America is" and the amusing, "He's not fat, just big foamed."

A recent published in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that women's self esteem takes a nosedive when exposed to models of any size, so maybe there is no easy answer. But as long as mannequins are influencing people to buy fashion, reflecting real-life bodies is a step in the right direction.

by on Mar. 15, 2013 at 4:53 AM
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by Ruby Member on Mar. 15, 2013 at 5:01 AM
3 moms liked this

Before i had kids i looked like the mannequin in back, now i look like the one in front *sigh* those were the days lol.

by on Mar. 15, 2013 at 5:04 AM
I've worked in the retail industry for years would say that those are actually very expensive mannequins. I used to be a 4 in my 20's and since having kids, I really appreciate anything that models curves. I'm currently a size 8 due to my stomach. Being post baby 6 months, I wish I was smooth and toned! Lol.
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by Ruby Member on Mar. 15, 2013 at 5:08 AM
1 mom liked this

I was a 6 before my kids and now i'm a 12, no way i'll ever be in a 6 again due to how much my hips spread during the pregs. I'm having to learn to love my body the way it is now, new curves and all, it's not easy.

by Member on Mar. 15, 2013 at 5:51 AM
11 moms liked this
Those are some awesome looking mannequins! So realistic! I wish they would use them in more stores here.
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by Gina on Mar. 15, 2013 at 5:53 AM
1 mom liked this

It's nice to see mannequins that don't look like stick figures.

by Bronze Member on Mar. 15, 2013 at 5:57 AM
7 moms liked this

I think these mannequins are great! Although at first glance, I didn't even see what the uproar was wasn't until I started to read the article that I realized it was about proportions. I think the one in front looks beautiful.

And the people who are freaking out about how portraying realistic women, mannequins, etc. is "encouraging obesity", I would actually argue that the opposite is true. A lot of women look at size-00 models and figure that they're never going to look like that, so what's the point in even trying to eat healthy and exercise? My sister does that, and she's obese. If girls had more realistic, healthy role models for what they should look like, maybe we wouldn't have this weird dichotomy of being obessed with skinny bodies but also being the fattest, unhealthiest nation in the country.

by Bronze Member on Mar. 15, 2013 at 8:45 AM

I think those mannequins look great and didn't even know what the uproar was about until I read the article.  It's nice to see a more realistic portrayal of women.

It's quite ironic really in that the media and fashion push these super skinny women on us everyday, but I really think that instead of helping it does the opposite.  Those skinny models are unattainable and unrealistic for most women and just contributes to low self-esteem, which in turn, leads to overeating and binging on food.  It's unhealthy.  If women were taught what healthy actually looked like, we may have more of a chance.

by guerrilla girl on Mar. 15, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Good greif...I am a size 4 and look a LOT like the one in the front.

That is considered fat?

Good thing I have a good self image.

Before kids I looked like the one in the back...I was a size 0-1.

Neon Washable Paint

by on Mar. 15, 2013 at 9:23 AM

I don't like realistic mannequins.  They creep me out.   I don't like having to wonder if it's a model sitting really still and she's going to reach out and grab me. 

by Bronze Member on Mar. 15, 2013 at 9:25 AM
I don't get the controversy
I'd rather look at these all day long than the sticky twiggy ones
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