Glassons, a popular clothing store in New Zealand aimed at young girls and women, recently came under fire for having unacceptable mannequins. There were new mannequins in each store that looked like their ribs were sticking out. An online petition to remove the mannequins gathered 16,000 signatures in only one day. Many women were outraged, saying that the figures promoted unhealthy and unattainable images of women. As one article cited, “Auckland psychotherapist Anna Drijver, who specialises in anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating and overeating, said it was ‘absurd’ to use a mannequin baring ribs.”
The Glassons Mannequins
First, the retailer issued a statement that was deemed unacceptable by many people:
“Due to the position of the mannequin with the arm elevated and slightly twisted, the rib cage is naturally enhanced as it would be in real life,” Graeme Popplewell, CEO. “The store lighting spotlights also increase this effect.” Seriously?
After even more of a backlash after the above statement was issued, women and health care experts were relieved and felt triumphant that they had gotten the store to issue an apology and remove all such mannequins from their stores. Though it was a victory, many people felt that it was frivolous and unimportant. Even in the apology statement issued, seems to have a catch, dismissing the concerns of women:
“We agree that the mannequins are unacceptable, and we have removed them from all stores. While these mannequins are not new to the business, we have taken on-board the feedback in its entirety, and we unreservedly apologise for any upset we may have caused those who viewed the store displays.” – Hallenstein Glasson CEO, Graeme Popplewell
The inclusion of this statement, which I thought was unnecessary, seems to not only qualify their decision to use the figures, but I feel like it is almost condescending to the women who were offended, saying that they clearly were not in the fashion or retail world.
Though many other people said that models thinness should not offend anyone, that it is a specific body type or that people who demand fuller models are “skinny shaming”, I can tell you that I legitimately feel awful about myself when I compare my body to models or, in this case, to mannequins. The only time I ever was able to see my ribs was shortly before being diagnosed with an eating disorder. Though this may just be triggering for me and “my problem”, almost every single woman I speak to about body image says she feels negatively about herself in comparison to models. Why? Because they set the standard for femininity, and especially editorial models, for high culture and high fashion.