I came across this picture on Facebook the other day, and I was instantly drawn to the image – a “plus size” or “average size” woman in comparison to the mannequins used in most retail stores. I don’t know about you, but I noticed a bit of a discrepancy. I’ve often wondered why the mannequins in the stores didn’t quite look like me or the size clothing in my section of the store. Or better yet, why there are no mannequins at all in the plus sized section of the store. In most major department stores, when and if there is a mannequin in the plus sized section, the clothes are pinned to fit the smaller framed mannequin. Why is that? Afraid the clothes will still be beautiful and flattering on a fuller figure? I had a somewhat similar experience when I was wedding dress shopping. I’d looked at dresses on these mannequins or on models in magazines or online and think to myself, “What does that look like on an ‘average’ or fuller body?” Sure enough, I totally dismissed a dress because, well to be perfectly honest, it didn’t look so appealing on the size 2 model in the magazine. But when I saw it on the more realistic and average size body of a girl who had posted the pic on her blog, I fell head over heels for the dress.
Pic 1: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=enzoani+halona&FORM=IQFRBA&id=8F5818FB427B06D5EC7AC08C2B1B826CDB4BDCDB&selectedIndex=0#view=detail&id=8F5818FB427B06D5EC7AC08C2B1B826CDB4BDCDB&selectedIndex=0
I found an article that had gotten some buzz last year about plus size mannequins being used in Sweden. (http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/03/18/swedish-mannequins-plus-size-reaction-real-women) When the writer of the article asked blogger Cathy Benavides if mannequins being used in the U.S. are damaging to women’s self-esteem, the response was, “I don’t know if I want to say that a mannequin can damage a woman’s self-esteem; that’s a lot of blame to heap on a hunk of plaster. But I think it’s indicative of the disconnect between the reality of the majority of women’s bodies and the fantasy we are sold. It’s disheartening and frustrating to see items on a mannequin that is shaped nothing like you. And it can make for a meltdown in the dressing room when nothing looks ‘right’ on your body.”
I agree wholeheartedly. It’s not the plastic mannequin that causes low self-esteem, rather what that “heap of plastic” represents. It is a reminder to women that they have failed once again to reach an ideal that just isn’t reality. We are not all size 2 or 4. Why is it so wrong or taboo for all beautiful bodies to be represented?