Two days after walking into a Topshop store, my photo of an unhealthy looking mannequin has gone viral. We walked into the shop and were in absolute shock at what faced us. The mannequins were thinner than any human being I have seen in my life. I decided to take a photo of my best friend stood next to it – she’s a size 8/10 – to show the huge difference between her and the mannequin.
The photo has had over 6,000 re-tweets, the majority of them agreeing with our point about showing healthier sized images. We did however, receive some negative tweets, suggesting that what we were doing was essentially body-shaming skinny girls. This was definitely not our intention. We don’t have a bad word to say about skinny girls, we believe that all girls are beautiful and all should be comfortable in their own skin, whether they be a size 4 or a 24.
The mannequins in Topshop are all this size and misrepresent a normal body image for their demographic – young influential girls. We accept that there are naturally very thin girls in the world – which again, we aren’t saying is a negative thing – but considering the average dress size for the UK female is a size 16, this mannequin is clearly way off the mark.
Whilst we very much understand and appreciate that eating disorders are definitely not only caused by ‘a piece of plastic in a shop window,’ it’s also very clear that this is yet another portrayal of a very thin female body, which has been forced down the throats of society for decades. This clearly won’t help girls be comfortable with the skin they’re in.
Misrepresentations of the female body are all over the media, which means the media have a responsibility for the health and well-being of their readers/viewers etc. The point of my tweet was to hopefully get Topshop to show a more diverse range of body shapes and sizes with their mannequins. No, mannequins aren’t supposed to look EXACTLY like a human, but seeing how they are the first image of the female body you see as you walk into stores, they should portray different body sizes, not just very skinny.
We sincerely hope we haven’t caused offence with the photo and apologise to anyone who has been offended. We’re not offended by the mannequin and are very happy in our own skins, which I hope, along with this photo and the raising of awareness will encourage other girls to feel the same.