Mannequin Panic

Reader Melissa clued me into Swedish Mannequins slightly larger than the typical size 4 that we see in the United States that have started a crapstorm of people falling all over each other to wring their hands and shriek about “promoting obesity”.

We’ve already discussed the thoroughly ridiculous idea of promoting obesity and it’s just as dumb now as it was then.

Also, I’m actually fat – right at this moment.  I’ve not the inclination toward nudism and over-sized burlap sacks chafe,  so I find myself with a need to buy clothing in my actual, right at this moment, size.  It would be just dandy if the mannequin modeling those clothes could even fit into the smallest size at the store, let alone my actual size.  I don’t believe that this would make me fatter, I do believe it would make me more likely to try on clothes that I ultimately buy while becoming less homicidal throughout the shopping process.

I think that it is vital that we stop calling these ideas, derived by rectal pull as far as I can tell, to be valid public health interventions just because they say “anti-obesity,” as if that’s some kind of magical password that renders science, research, logic, and basic human respect irrelevant and unnecessary.

Where is there good research to suggest that very thin mannequins lead to thin people or to healthy people (remembering, of course, that these are two separate things?)  Where is there good research to suggest  mannequins in a size 8 somehow cause people to become larger?  How is it logical that fat people will become happier, healthier and thinner as long as they never see people or inanimate objects who look like them?  Basically this entire idea – that the best thing we can do for fat people is purposefully create a world without positive representations of them –  is an unsubstantiated claim rooted in size bigotry.

Even if this research existed, the idea would still be problematic – is it ethical to try to make people healthier by creating a world that is designed to make them hate themselves and feel hopeless about their future unless they are able to change their body size? Then, of course, there is the added layer of the fact that the vast majority of those who try to change their body size fail? Among those who succeed, even if their physical health was better, would their mental health ever recover?

This is why I think it’s so important that we put representations of ourselves out there using the means that we have at our disposal – Facebook, blogs, forums, media appearances, wherever we can get ourselves out there.  It can also be extremely affirming to look at images of people who look like us to remember that what we are spoon-fed by the media is a stereotype of beauty that is artificially narrow and limited and, thanks to digital retouching, is unattainable by everyone – often including the people in the pictures.  Here are some places where you can check out awesome fatty images – if I’ve missed any (and I’m sure that I have) please feel free to add them in the comments!

The Fit Fatties Forum video and photo galleries (look around and feel free to add your own!)

The Adipositivity Project (NSFW unless your W is super cool)

The More Cabaret Gallery (FSFW – fairly safe for work)

Joyce Mudd’s amazing sculptures

This post (check the comments for lots of amazing pictures of fat people doing awesome stuff from belly dancing to hammer throwing).

Works of Peter Paul Rubens (NSFW)

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Published in: on March 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm  Comments (43)  

43 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hooray for “real-sized” mannequins….although they’re not even close to MY real size, but we’ll take what we can get. While we’re at it, how about plus-size clothing catalogs that actually show the clothes on the women they’re designed to fit? I can tell you for sure that the models in the Roaman’s catalog (for example) look a hell of a lot different in the clothes than I do.

    • Plus sized models are usually a size 12 or 14… and almost 6′ tall! I believe Lane Bryant actually pads up their models so they wear a 16 in catalogues. LB’s mannequins are “size 16” but again, they’re tall – over 6′, I think. And we always had to pin the clothing back to make it fit and look flattering, so I suspect that they really aren’t a 16. (former employee)

      I love plus sized models, but they’re really not representative of the average woman.

      • Um. What? Please help me understand how “the average woman” in a plus-sized store is not representative of their customer base. You’ve lost me on that logic.

        Or did you mean to say that so-called plus-sized models are not actually representative of plus-sized women, because that seems to be painfully obvious in their catalogs and stores where “plus-size” seems only equal to “tall.”

        • “I love plus sized models, but they’re really not representative of the average woman.” – She is talking strictly about models about not representing the average plus sized woman.

          When I was plus sized I was pretty much the opposite of those models, 5’4″ and a pear shape. A found that most plus sized clothing seemed to be more fit for someone quite busty and large around the mid-section.

        • The second one. I’m sorry you misunderstood initially but I thought I was pretty clear? Lane Bryant’s models and mannequins don’t accurately reflect their customer base, because the average American woman is a good 6-8″ shorter than the model. I worked there for a while and saw a wide variety of bodies come through the door. In fact, about a third of the customers commented to me about the mannequins and expressed the same sentiment: that they’re not representative of the women actually shopping at the store, and they were discouraged to shop there because of it. Our rate of sales vs. people in the store (we had a sensor at the door that counted the number of people coming in) was awful. Many women came in, got frustrated, and left.

          I wish the models and mannequins they use would come in a variety of heights and sizes.

      • Lane Bryant makes me sad – just because I’m plus sized doesn’t mean I’m 6 feet tall or have giant boobs! I can only buy their bottoms because the tops are all saggy on me😦

        • I’m not tall, but have what could be called the Rack o’ Doom. It seems many shirts show WAY too much cleavage, are HUGE on the girls or insanely restrictive. No “juuuuussst right!” I go for the cleavage shirts and layer with tanks rather than look like their gonna fall out or bust out of their cage.

        • I’m 6 feet and have DDs, Lane Bryant’s probably the only place I feel normal😦

  2. Most of the commentary on these mannequins that I’ve seen has been positive… probably because, as much as I keep seeing articles calling them “plus sized”, they’re, um, medium-sized. My body looks about like those mannequins. When I go into a doctor’s office, even if the doctor has bought into the body size = health fallacy hook line and sinker, I get a pat on the back for practicing HAES behaviors rather than dieting. These mannequins and I, we have the body size that people publicly approve of to PROVE that they’re in favor of healthy body image, that they’re Doing Something about eating disorders, that unlike the evil fashion industry, THEIR arbitrary designation of what body sizes people are allowed to have is reasonable and realistic. The non-threatening version of resistance to dieting culture.

    Well, I say non-threatening, except that apparently for some people health-based concern trolling as a cover for enforcing their aesthetic preferences is so reflexive that they try it even when they can’t possibly expect anyone to believe them. WTF, people.

    • … they’re, um, medium-sized.

      Agreed. I mean, it’s certainly nice to see mannequins who represent a wider range of sizes, but the sizes these mannequins represent are still straight sizes. I certainly don’t mind seeing them, but I suspect that the public reaction would be different if they were, say, size 24 or 36.

  3. One of the reasons size 4 (or smaller) forms are typical is so a store can showcase 3 or 4 in a window, where only 2 of the size 8 or 16 would fit. Also, in the store displays, they want the mannequins to take up as little space as possible so more room can be devoted to merchandise. Economics.

    • A lot of places I see at the mall only have one of a size 2 or 4 in the window, showing one outfit, where in the plus size store I shop at has 4 or 5 in the window, with verying outfits. I am not saying this is the norm but it seems interesting.

    • And yet, I’m less likely to purchase clothing in a store if the mannequins or models give me no idea what the clothing will look like on me — or even that the store carries clothing for me. Economics.

      • As I realize I forgot to put in plus sized models in the window, I must have been very tired when I typed that. My bad!

  4. The mental health thing is important. I have “accidentally” dropped four dress sizes since June, and the mental health issues are huge, I really struggle sometimes over it. And my physical health suffered, the sudden (unintentional) loss of body fat caused large amounts of oestrogen to be released into my system and my menopause reversed! NOT GOOD medically aside from the horror of it.

    • OMG! I shall send a wave of prayer-karma-chi-wishes that your health and happiness are improved.

    • Having the same issue. I wish there was a way to use a hot pad in a bubble bath without electrocuting myself.

      • The injections to bring menopause back havent worked, as I just discovered an hour ago😦 What did you do to sort out your problem – I can send you my email address
        separately if you wish

  5. Aaah, That more cabaret link reminds me of some burlesque I have seen in the San Francisco bay Area, mostly the east bay. Also it’s really nice to see the different genders and types of sexuality represented by the adipositivity website. That’s lovely!

    I am more inclined to shop at thrift stores and knit what I can, but if I did buy new clothes I think I would be more inclined to shop at a place that has one or two really well dressed mannequins that look more like me, then four mannequins dressed in outfits designed to look good on a size 2.

  6. They’re not even obese, so how can they can be promoting obesity? I love the shape of them compared to the usual offerings we get here in the UK.

    • Apparently “has not had her internal organs and external obliques photoshopped off” equals “obese.”

  7. I also have seen very positive comments about the mannequins. What’s sad is that it surprises me because I have come to expect hostility and mockery for anything like that.

  8. I haven’t seen any “promoting obesity” commentary, what I have seen on the other hand have been all the entitled men of the world united in sharing their deep insights such as “real women have curves” and “fit is hot, skinny is not”. Because obviously what this whole issue (like everything else) really comes down to is the male stamp of approval. SO. MUCH. RAGE.

    • Same here. All I see is praise for the mannequins…and some commenters talking about how they’re the “ideal” size, neither too fat nor too thin. There are also arguments about whether fat women or thin women are more sexually desirable. But I haven’t seen any comments about the mannequins promoting obesity. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few such comments existed, coming from people with body dysmorphia, or trolls.

    • I hope I don’t encourage a rash of hatemail over this, but I must speak up. It’s not healthy to put all the blame on men. I just blogged about this last night: http://ascendingslowly.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/empowering-women-is-not-dis-empowering-men/

      • Commenting about the male gaze or about how one finds it frustrating when men think they’re insightfully arguing in favor of female empowerment when actually they’re just promoting their own personal beauty standard ideals over those of the status quo (rather than rejecting the idea that there should be a singular ideal standard) is neither blaming nor disempowering to men though.

        Pointing out when someone makes you feel diminished in power is not taking their power from them. I fail to see how anyone’s perceived right to comment upon my body as if there is some kind of public ownership they are owed over how it looks is central to their power or personhood.

        Skinny people don’t get to tell me my fat body is wrong because it differs from theirs and that makes them uncomfortable. Men don’t get to tell me my fat body isn’t (or even is) sexy based on their desire to fuck it or not. My body is inherently right and its sexiness is also inherent, and also only on display for the people I choose to display it to in the ways I choose to display it to them. It doen’t have to live up to every Lola, Robin, or Reginald’s desires for it just because they happen to be present and looking at it and decide to form an opinion about it. I expect that, not because I am blaming them for all of society’s ills, but because I demand and deserve to be treated with respect.

        Similarly, framing this kind of comment as “blaming” men and saying it isn’t “healthy” is… problematic, at best.

        • I didn’t feel like anyone here was blaming men. I think we can blame society as a whole for the promotion of the “male sexual gaze as judge” because both men AND women have bought into that and pursue it as the standard. In this era, I also see a great backlash from both women AND men against that very thing. It gives me hope for the next generation making things better.

          • Thank you, Helena, that was a lot more succinct than what I said.

        • “I fail to see how anyone’s perceived right to comment upon my body as if there is some kind of public ownership they are owed over how it looks is central to their power or personhood.”

          Also THIS.🙂

        • I want to copy this, print it and distribute it to everyone I know, post it in public places and put it in the newspaper.

  9. Having a bit of body unhappiness because THEY STILL HAVE THIN WAISTS AND WIDE HIPS.

    I think I’m going to stop following someone on tumblr because they love to reblog gothy outfits, and all the models are thin. *sigh*

    Crappy sleep makes me extra cranky.

    • Just wanted to add that when I was a teenage, I was about ‘average woman size’, that is 145 pounds and 5’3″. I was called both fat and beautiful by different people.

      I don’t know what this means, but I sure as heck was insecure about my looks.

  10. Great sites! great thing I’ve done lately is add some pages to my facebook and Pinterest feeds so that I get a wider variety of body images “handed to me” every day. Here are a few pages to consider: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Voluptuously-Yours , https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Body-Is-Not-an-Apology , http://pinterest.com/donyee/thick-an-sick/

    • The fb pages don’t come up, but I peeked at the “Thick An Sick” page. While I’m glad the page exists to give credence to the notion that sexy is not a function of size, it is also not a function solely of the body as if it could exist separately from the whole person.

      I would love to see pages that celebrate the belief that sexiness is a function of every person on this planet because it comes from the mind, not the physique. We have been conditioned to see beauty and sexiness in certain physiques and poses by a society that is obsessed with the visual and the physical.

      I wish we didn’t also automatically tie beauty to sexuality as if they cannot exist separately. I feel like a woman can’t be considered beautiful in society’s eyes unless she also appears to exude sexiness. Sexy is fine, but we don’t need to put our bodies on display in order to be sexy or beautiful. It’s just another function of patriarchy, in my opinion.

      Even if each one of those women were fully dressed in grubby sweats, she would be no less sexy or beautiful. If she were confined to a wheelchair – no less beautiful or sexy.

      • I’d like to point out that most of those women still have an hourglass shape, which is still held up as most desirable, leaving the rest of us out in the cold.

        • I see that almost everywhere where women are touted as sexy. It can be very disheartening to those of us who don’t look like that.

  11. Oh, and has anyone seen the mannequins with breast implants? I know more and more women are getting them and this helps illustrate what clothing will look like on augmented figures. But still, it creeps me out. Is this wrong? I mean, it falls under the Underpants Rule- you are boss of your Underpants (and Bra) and what goes in said garment.

    • How do mannequins get breast implants? I mean – aren’t they already just hunks of plastic?

      • Haha! No, it’s a thin (you know, size zero or 4, tall) figure, with football sized and shaped breasts, jutting out of the chest, making the clothes fit weird. The mannequin is copying a person who has had breast implants. Huge, unnatural looking cleavage. Good, like I said, for people who have had such surgery and got the blimp shape and size implants.

        • So the marketing community DOES understand that women want to know what the clothes will look like on their bodies before purchase.

  12. Forgive me if this is a repeat but I love The Body Images Project. http://www.thebodyimages.com/


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