Mannequins for change


All around us, people are different. To look through the eyes of the fashion industry, all we would see is tall, skinny girls whose clothes fall in all the right places. It is obvious that in the real world, not everyone is like that. We are all varying heights, weights and abilities. For those that are not the perfect size, even walking through a shopping centre can be an overwhelming experience. A slap in the face with a beauty ideal that you can never truly achieve.

Do you know what you really see?

Once in a while, a campaign comes along and it is only then when our eyes are opened fully. We start to realise the brainwashing, conforming body image that is spoon-fed to us on a daily basis. Every time you walk into a clothes shop and see a mannequin smaller than you, does that mentally affect you? Demand that you change in order to make their clothes look good?

In the shop’s, mannequins are displayed in pride of place with the most popular items hanging from them. Often clipped back because the figures themselves are too small to wear the clothing properly. It is said that the average size of a woman in the UK is 16 whereas most mannequins are between size 8 and 10.

And now an MSP has spoken up, with a personal message to spread. Dennis Robertson lost his daughter Caroline to anorexia, one of the most common eating disorders in the UK. He has demanded that retailers follow the lead of Debenhams and use a mix of mannequins for their display. When we shop with our children, is it even considered the influences that they are put under whilst being in shops that have skinny mannequins? Does it even affect them, or not?

It is not just their weight that is the problem with mannequins. Those that are visually disabled, and who struggle on a daily basis, are sick of being called ugly by the generic image of a beautiful woman that is repeated over and over again, no matter the store. Things are changing, though. A Swiss ad agency called Pro Infermis waded in on the debate and it opened our eyes to the superficial nature of the society we live in. The video is aptly called Who is Perfect?

Just how much buzz the campaign has created is inspiring but it also goes to show that people are sick and tired of this false, corrupted message of body perfection that seems to plague the fashion industry like a bad smell. According to national studies, 35% of amputees are depressed or have some sort of mental disorder that is down to their amputation. Returning to a normal life after losing a limb is hard enough without constantly being forced to observe a beauty ideal that is permanently unattainable.

It Affects Us All

Hopefully, it will not be too long before we start to see an influx of mannequins that actually represent the average British population (size 16 and 5ft3), coupled with those that have disabilities. The body size of the population changes so fast before the year 2000 the average size for a woman in the UK was a size twelve. That has gone up not one but two sizes in the past fourteen years, which begs the question: what will the average size be by 2030? Size twenty?

Valentinos Displays has a collection of plus-sized mannequins, male and female, that are guaranteed to get your customers intrigued. The popularity that both the Debenhams and the Pro Infermis campaigns have had both online and in-store has been astronomical, which is an obvious throwback to the fact that most women are sick of the same old generalisations being thrown their way by the fashion industry. Show customers that you do not buy into the tired, old beauty myths with a plus-sized mannequin.

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