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Are Fashion Mannequins Too Skinny?


Catwalk models often come under fire for being too skinny and the major fashion houses have all been criticized for using freakishly thin models in their advertising.

This debate has gone on for the last few years, and although some of the leading designers have toned down the skinny look, now the clothing industry is again under fire.

This time, not for using skinny real life models but for the fibreglass dummies used in the shops where the clothes are sold.
Fashion mannequins – those plastic forms used in stores to display clothes, have been criticised for being unrealistically skinny and for bearing no resemblance to the shape of real life women.


Last week a Topshop customer tweeted a picture of her size 10 friend standing next to a mannequin in Topshop using the hashtag #Topshop #poorbodyimage#irresponsible #fashion #highstreet. The tweeted picture went viral with over 6.000 retweets and it is easy to see why.

The picture clearly showed how unrealistic and distorted the shape of Topshop mannequins are when compared with a real life slim woman.

The mannequin had elongated legs so skinny that it made a size 10 woman look enormous by comparison. However, Topshop are not the only culprits. Many of the major companies use these mannequins including high street favourite Primark. However, the tide may be beginning to turn.

There has been by move by some shops to bring some reality back into shop mannequins. Debenhams started using size 16 mannequins back in 2013 and according to some studies, larger and more realistic shaped mannequins may be good for sales as women are drawn to clothing worn on a similar body shape to themselves.

However, when it comes to body image, is the size of the fashion mannequin really important?

These mannequins are not real and are in effect nothing more than fancy clothes hangers. Some don’t even have heads and according to the shops, mannequins are not meant to be realistic anyway. They are abstract and in an interview with the Guardian newspaper Topshop said,

In order for clothing to fit, the form of the mannequins needs to be of certain dimensions to allow clothing to be put on and removed; this is therefore not meant to be a representation of the average female body.

In addition, most mannequin bodies are actually a standardised size 10. However, the use of the elongated skinny legs does seem questionable.

The overall height of the mannequins at 187cm is way taller than the average woman and the legs are thinner and longer than is physically possible so the clothes on show are never going to look as good on a real life person as they do on fibreglass dummy.

Although Debenhams has been praised for its larger female body size in mannequins, there is a concern that using a size 16 mannequin may help normalise being overweight.

What do you think?

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