Why Can’t Mannequins Be Fat Or Short?


Here at The Gloss, we champion diversifying the fashion industry so that it actually represents all women, instead of an extremely narrow representation that’s unattainable for most bodies. In this conversation, we normally talk about the models on the runway (primarily white, rarely over a size 0), or the endemic airbrushing that advertisers love to feed us as MAKEUP FREE or ALL NATURAL. We also talk about the glaring lack of clothing available over a size 12, and the emphasis on “straight sizes” over “plus sizes.” I wait for the day that we just call it “sizes.”

Here’s something we don’t often talk about because I spend too much time getting enraged about clothes and models to notice much else: mannequins. And why shouldn’t we talk about mannequins when we talk about expanding our concept of the ideal woman? These humanoid plastic monsters play a huge role in contributing to our image of women and women’s bodies, considering we see them as often as we see billboards or commercials.

The UK is leading the way under the command of Jo Swinson, a British MP and Minister for Women and Equalities of the UK’s Government Equalities Office. Swinson is pushing for plus-size and petite mannequins—both horribly underrepresented in advertising and clothing manufacturing—to be put into stores. As she puts it: ”Retailers should show diversity in shapes and sizes to reflect the reality of women walking down the street. Showing real body shapes would only enhance people’s body confidence.”

Well said. Here’s to hoping that Swinson’s campaign is successful, and that the US takes a lesson from the UK. We need to focus on including body diversity everywhere where it’s lacking, and mannequins are no exception.

Photo: Getty Images

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    • Samantha_Escobar

      I would love to see some stupid exec come back with a, “Well, it’s cheaper to make skinnier mannequins because they need less material, hyuck hyuck!” explanation. Except then I would cry, because that’s ridiculous.

    • Jaclyn

      The thing I find weirdest is even in stores that are specifically “plus-sized”, the mannequins aren’t representative of actual plus-sized bodies. Sure, they are a little bigger in the hips, but they also all have flat bellies, to the point that they use the smallest size the store makes on the mannequins, and still need to pin the clothes behind the mannequin so they aren’t falling off. It’s incredibly frustrating.

    • B

      The answer to why mannequins only come skinny is simple. Do you know how heavy skinny mannequins are? When I we change mannequins at work it often takes one or two other people to help lift it while the other person dresses it. You want bigger mannequins? You try dressing them yourself. I guarantee you won’t be able to lift it.

    • http://theShopCompany.com/ The Shop Company

      From someone on the other side of the equation (we provide high quality and low cost mannequins to clothing stores throughout the country):
      Full figured mannequins are definitely growing in popularity (we have unexpectedly run out of our significant stock and are creating more).
      They are not that much heavier than the skinnier mannequin variety as all mannequins are hollow.
      For the above reason, they also cost us about the same as the skinnier ones do.

      The point Jaclyn made (about how even full bodied mannequins have flat tummies) is very true. In all the mannequins we sell or have seen others sell, we have never once come across a mannequin with a tummy. Perhaps this is a good idea…