13 November 2013

I Wear Clothes | All Of Me

Topshop Boutique trousers | Asos top | Office shoes | Mulberry handbag | 
Next necklace* | Nixon watch | My Flash Trash ring*

Photographs by Hanna Kristina

I've been sitting at my laptop for days now, attempting to rewrite this post so it will cause the least amount of offence possible but no matter which way it is phrased, there's no skirting around that when it comes vocalising any opinion on weight and fashion, there will always be confliction and individuals who feel discriminated against. So, I'll just come out and say it. I disagree in almost every way with the size 16 mannequins that can now be found sporting the latest collections on the shop floors of Debenhams. Including this discussion in an outfit post may also seem a little ironic but these are the posts where I have the time and space to let loose a little. 

Are the mannequins refreshing? Yes. Are they surprising? Yes, but perhaps not quite as much as if the mannequins were being introduced into highstreet retailers Topshop or Zara. Most importantly though, are they finally portraying a healthy body image to consumers? The very straightforward answer to that is no, and this is what is most frustrating. 

In the UK, the average statistics for women are 5'3", 11st and a dress size 16. A new tab opened and a quick Google search later clarifies that these figures rack up a huge BMI of 27.3. For those of you who aren't so au fait with how BMI works, any figure that comes in below 18 and above 25 is deemed unhealthy. There can be and are exceptions to the rule obviously (BMI calculations were not made to assess the few body builders among us) but by and large, it's a reasonably accurate measure of how healthy your body weight is for your height. 

A size 8 or 10 mannequin may be an unrealistic representation of the population as a whole but, unlike Debenham's new mannequins, at least it represents a weight that falls within the healthy spectrum. The size 16 mannequins are promoting and advocating being overweight. There are serious complexities linked with being overweight that can not, and should not, be ignored. 

Please don't get the wrong impression here, I'd argue just as hard if size 4 or 6 mannequins began popping up. It is, of course, promising to see retailers moving more towards the real but our real here in the UK simply isn't healthy. Nevertheless, that's a whole other issue in itself, isn't it? 

NadiaBunny said...

I totally agree with you, good on you for saying this! :)

Cube and Gold said...

I agree with this is well; a happy medium yes but advocating anything else not so much. I do think size 16 is the better end of the spectrum to be showcasing than a size 4 but why can the industry not just find something in between!! So very frustrating! Ali x

Lauren said...

Agreed! Always think this when watching Gok Wan telling women they're fabulous when they look like they're heading for type 2 diabetes.

Sarah McMaster said...

I don't really had an opinion on the "plus size" mannequins, but I do wish that shops would do mannequins in different heights as most mannequins are representing women that are tall (I think 5'7 and up?) I'm 5'2 so something on the mannequins never looks as good on me :/

laura rogan said...

I agree with you with the mannequins. I'm sorry, but people shouldn't be that size and they should try to do something about it. This really is celebrating being overweight for all those people that won't do anything about it. I know I sound horrible here but it really is true. There's being an average woman, and there's being ignorant to being unhealthy.
Great outfit by the way!

Georgia Collingwood said...

Couldn't agree more! So glad it isn't just me!

Katty El said...

love it!! Thanks for sharing..



Scarlett said...

Great post! I think that mannequins shouldn't be stick skinny, but definitely not "overweight!"
xo, Scarlett

Lois said...

I disagree...I think it will be better for people's self confidence and self image to see a more realistic representation of women wearing the clothes. The debenhams mannequins have a bit more boobs and bum, but they're hardly obese, and besides they're just there to promote the clothes NOT being overweight or unhealthy.Your size doesn't always determine your health, you can be a very unhealthy size 8, or a very healthy size 16. :)

Adorngirl said...

I mainly agree except for your BMI point rugby players who are very fit have high BMI as they have a lot of muscle so if you were going on that info alone its wrong necuase it would put that rugby player as unhealthy

As.a size 18 shopping in Debenhams it is nice to know how it looks on a mannequin dont forget the Debenhams cu is an average size 16 so makes sense to have a mannequin that reflects their customer imagine a size 8 mannequin in Evans it wouldnt make sense

Abimarvel. said...

Totally see your point here! But the main reason to introduce it is so that consumers can see what they may look like in the clothes. As you identified the average size in the UK is 16, so there are A LOT of people going into stores seeing the clothes they want to buy on a size 10 mannequin. I'm sure they don't feel bad or upset about their weight but they could feel annoyed at the fact a dress may not fall on them where it falls on the mannequin, that trousers don't fit a certain way. You saying you dont want them due to the people being unhealthy makes sense to a certain extent but then you might as well say we just shouldn't sell the clothes as well, so that these people know that they are overweight..

I think mixing them in is helpful, especially as the older some women get the less control they have over their bodies weight, you cant say they shouldn't see what the clothes may look like on their bodies because they're as you deem "Overweight".

I see you're intentions are right, but your reasoning is way off as you can easily be a size 16 and be healthy, so you should probably not be so quick to associate a size over 10 as being "overweight" and "not healthy".

Abi x

cleartheway said...

I think you should research BMI more and see how it holds up. People just sort of accept the numbers and don't take into account that it is severely flawed. Even the man who invented it in the 1800s said it shouldn't be used to indicate fat-weight and health. It's a really harmful measurement to use and it contributes to shaming healthy bodies.

Here is a resource for some preliminary research for you: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106268439

charlotte said...

I completely agree with your post, and can understand how touchy this subject is. Fashion + healthy body image is just a combination that falls short time and time again. The thing that struck me most though in regards to the mannequins they've introduced (I think it was on the Mail Online!?) was that the size 16 mannequins were toned and taut, and seemingly about six foot tall. Doesn't really add up in my opinion, if they're trying to create mannequins that are representative of the 'average' UK woman!

Really great post!
Charlotte x


Sheree Milli said...

I agree - I don't know anyone who is a size 16 who is a healthy weight. If I was a size 16 I'd be really, really overweight. Extremes of too fat OR too thin are damaging for people to see or to aspire to.


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