After reading the article shown in the feature image from last Saturday’s Daily Mail, I’ve not stopped thinking about this topic…..The small extract told me how Whistles, a leading retail brand popular with the likes of Kate Middleton has
with it’s shoppers due to it’s shop window mannequins – precisely, their
“protruding collar bones and ribs”.
Now, before we go any further I’m not saying that I agree with the store’s Eating Disorder Charity critics – the mannequin pictures aren’t what I would call
“extremely damaging and toxic”
at all. However, it did get me thinking – what size do you promote your brand as? Mannequins are often used to show off the clothes of the company in a favorable light – where’s the ‘happy medium’?
I agree with both Mary George and and Marg oaten, professionals from Eating Disorder related services, that indeed the mannequin used by Whistles is obviously
“underweight and can be harmful to vulnerable individuals”
who are susceptible to poor body images. I also support the idea that it’s an unrealistic portrayal of many women’s shape and size – however, there are women that are this size, and so it can be encouraging for them to see that a brand supports them.
Whilst the obvious answer is just to portray a range of mannequins varying in width and height, surely showing both extremes is just as bad – here an unhealthily small body shape has been used, but surely this is just as bad as a unhealthily large body shape being portrayed? Yet the media around ‘plus size mannequins‘ is much more complimentary.
Whether we’re of a ‘normal’ body shape (what even is this anyway?) retailers do have to PR themselves to a particular market – if this is the way Whistles want to position themselves in the market, then it’s up to them to comment and stand by their brand – as of yet, they’ve released no statement regarding the issue – bad PR in itself.
I’d say that however a brand want to position themselves in terms of their size range, it’s well within their rights, as long as their ethos and supporting statements and press support their brand – after all, we know all body shapes and sizes do exist – it’s not worth trying to argue that they don’t!