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The Skinny On Mannequins

All it takes is an observation, combined with a social media following, topped with an ill thought-out comment by a New Zealand fashion designer and from there it all snowballs into a whole big thing. Or in this case a whole skinny thing.

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There’s a whole lot of hoop la around Glassons and their skinny mannequins. I agree, the mannequins are skinny  and yes I am  jealous, but Glassons aren’t alone on this… most mannequins are skinny. As well as skinny, mannequins are tall, busty with perky boobs, curves “in all the right places” and beautiful long limbs. Much like Barbie dolls, mannequins aren’t exactly based on reality, but the long sleek figures of most models isn’t a reality for many of us either. I’m far from mannequin shaped, I wear a 12E bra, size 10-12 bottoms, anywhere from a size 10-14 top, I’m 159cm tall weighing in at 70kg and I’m not going to lie sometimes shopping for clothes or even glancing at advertising is a tad on the depressing side.

Sadly Denise L’Estrange-Corbet, and her comment which added fuel to the fire isn’t alone either. Yes her comment “clothes look better on skinny people” was a dumb thing to say but how many department stores, fashion retailers and clothing designers hero their plus size models on their catalogue covers, television advertising, runways, billboards or even have plus size models?

In fact WHY are there plus size models?!

Why not just normal models? 

Many consider size 14 – 16 to be the starting point of “plus size” and apparently the average New Zealand woman is sized 12-14, so why not use “normal” women to market to “normal” women? Are we partly to blame because we as consumers don’t want to be marketed to using “normal“? Perhaps we just appreciate and tolerate the fantasy of fashion and thus the cycle continues.  I personally don’t like the way “plus size is separated out from the rest, and feel uneasy about the message that is sometimes sent through advertising.

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Having worked in retail marketing I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen models made skinnier, models made taller, young models wearing clothing for aimed at older women and clothing lengthened because the model was too tall. I’ve seen tattoos removed, tans added, teeth whitened and curves smoothed out.  There have been requests to remove knees (which weren’t carried out) and children’s missing teeth to be put back in. There have been size 14 models jammed into size 10 denim shorts, leaving unrealistic retouching requirements and extremely weedy models punching the air wearing athletic clothing. Do we all have an aversion to reality? We’re all partial to the fairy tale of fashion and almost all of us are guilty of being part of the problem rather than the solution. Personally I would’ve liked to see a woman of strong character like Denise, who isn’t super skinny or really tall stand up and lead a fashion revolution.

We'll never know the level of retouching

We’ll never know the level of retouching

Retailers and fashion brands have been using tall, skinny models and mannequins for decades (and decades), Miley Cyrus smoking pot possibly won’t go on quite as long. For Denise L’Estrange-Corbet to deflect from the issuing saying she sees “Miley Cyrus openly smoking dope as a much bigger issue than skinny mannequins” is again a dumb thing to say, the effects of a poor self image and low self-esteem run deep and can be the starting point for all sorts of feelings, behaviours and actions.

Wouldn’t it be great to see major players in New Zealand fashion like Denise L’Estrange-Corbet and Glassons be the start of a positive change rather than further examples of the norm.

Just because it’s the norm doesn’t mean it’s the way it should be.



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Join the discussion

  1. Lena

    You’re so right – why are we so scared of a realistic portrayal of an average woman. Showing the ribs is unneccessary for a manequin

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