Reddit is both a wonderful and terrible place: it exemplifies some of the best aspects about the Internet, as well as the most repugnant. When one user posted a photo of a larger-than-average mannequin (I wouldn’t even call it obese, but scroll down and see for yourself) along with the title, “Anyone else horrified that they make obese mannequins too now?” it’s not really a big surprise that the picture ignited debate and some misguided outrage.

Hundreds of users jumped onto the anger train about this supposedly terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mannequin. Many people commented on the ridiculousness of the mannequin’s appearance, but others thought that “this is not acceptable. and is wtf worthy,” as well as lots of debate on whether or not overweight people can be healthy, if this encourages heaviness and so on. You know, basically the same argument people have against non-thin women being on television. Because obviously, one mannequin will combat the years of conditioning that we have against gaining weight. Sure.

Given that the United States has an ever-growing obesity rate, it’s no wonder why many stores are making clothing lines specifically designed for people who have long had a difficult time finding clothes that fit them in “standard” collections. More garment producing companies are recognizing that it’s a huge market with lots of room to expand, as there is a decided lack of great clothes for overweight individuals. Why bother getting upset with companies like J.C. Penney for taking advantage of this? After all, they’re a business, and businesses goes where the money is.

In 2009, Cintra Wilson of the New York Times wrote a review of the company after they had revealed some larger mannequins, including this statement:

[J.C. Penney has] made a point of providing clothing for people of all sizes (a strategy, company officials have said, to snatch business from nearby Macy’s). To this end, it has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on. It’s like a headless wax museum devoted entirely to the cast of ‘Roseanne.’

Yes, because every person who’s overweight has diabetes. Also: of course these were the most obese mannequins you’ve ever seen–there are barely any non-skinny ones out there. Anyway, the point is the same–mannequins that are not of standard sizing are somehow revolting and able to be insulted.

For the record, this is a photo of the mannequin in question:

This mannequin doesn’t even look obese to me; it kind of just looks bizarrely disproportionate (not to mention very contemplative). If this mannequin were a person, I’m not even sure if he would be considered “obese.” Though he wouldhave quite the tiny head, so that part is kind of creepy to look at–mainly because these dimensions are actually unrealistic. But simply the idea of showing a severely underrepresented group of people is the upsetting part, somehow.


Wouldn’t it make more sense to be disturbed by the mannequins with measurements that are distorted in that Barbie doll way, in which if the mannequins were real, their limbs would be Slender Man-esque and their necks couldn’t support their heads and their legs couldn’t support their torsos? Those encourage an unhealthy body image, so why don’t those qualify for public outrage? Or we could all just be collectively disturbed by self-immolating, creepy child mannequins–now those are terrifying.
Photo: Reddit