Contemporary Debates in Fashion

Retailer to Introduce ‘Plus Size’ Mannequins

Size 16 and Size 10 Mannequin in Garments

Department store Debenhams have recently announced they are to introduce size 16 ‘plus size’ mannequins throughout their Oxford Street store. Twelve mannequins will then appear alongside the current size 10’s across the other 170 stores. “The average British woman is a size 16, but the high street has been showing their clothing on a mannequin that is three sizes smaller – until now. Having worked on this project for three years, we hope that it will help people in some small way to feel comfortable about their bodies and, crucially, that other retailers will follow,” Debenhams Director Ed Watson said.

Discussion on Debenhams decision to introduce larger mannequin

Personally I feel this is a step in the wrong direction if the retailers aim is to try to promote body confidence. The average British women weighs 11stone, is 5ft 3inch in height and wears a size 16; therefore the mannequins are not plus-size, they are normal and ‘real’. Looking at the mannequins alongside the standard size 10 the body is still in proportion and there are no lumps and bumps which you would naturally expect. The retailer has simply stretched the hips and waist, and made the bust and buttocks larger without considering the stomach, legs or arms which are not representative of a size 16 woman. 

Size 16 and Size 10 Mannequins

Public reaction on Twitter was of the same opinion with one consumer tweeting “I love the thought behind this but it looks like they’ve just stretched the hips?! I’m size 10 and don’t have legs that thin!”, while another argued “that mannequin was never a size 16!! Not even a 14. Shame on you #debenhams! If you’re going to do something bold do it right!” I can’t help but agree, if Debenhams aim is to promote a healthy body image and make other retailers follow suit they needed to have been more audacious and completely removed all the smaller mannequins.

However people seem to be misguided in thinking that mannequins and retailers are the only thing to blame for body confidence issues. Statistics from campaigners Body Gossip suggest 1 in 10 young people will develop an eating disorder before reaching 25 with 1.6 million currently diagnosed in the UK.

Britney Spears Airbrushed Image

I have to say this is mainly because of the media bombarding young teens and women with photoshopped images of celebrities and models in magazines that ‘sell a particular appearance’ and their representation of the ‘ideal’ women. In the end we need to ensure that young girls and women have positive images of diverse body shape and sizes in out society.