Debenhams old-style mannequins, sized 8 – 10
Last week, Debenhams introduced size 16 mannequins (For reference, a UK size 16 is roughly equivalent to a US 12) into its stores, saying that size 16 is the “average” size of women in the UK, and the new mannequins are therefore more representative of its customers. Previously, clothes were displayed on models sized 8-10, which, says Debenhams, is unhelpful to shoppers in the store.
“The average British woman is a size 16, but the high street has been showing them clothing on a mannequin that is three sizes smaller – until now,” said Debenhams director Ed Watson. “Having worked on this project for three years, we hope that it will help people in some small way to feel comfortable about their bodies and, crucially, that other retailers will follow.”
Whether or not other retailers WILL follow remains to be seen; this week, however, MSP Dennis Robertson, whose daughter died of anorexia, urged retailers to follow Debenhams example, and adopt this new standard, which leads us to wonder: DO larger mannequins help women feel better about their figures?
We’ve long been aware that many women just can’t relate to the images presented by the fashion world, whether it be in the form of the models on the catwalk, or the airbrushed figures in magazines. However, women come in such a variety of shapes and sizes (Two women could both wear a size 16 dress, for instance, but look totally different in it, depending on their body shape), that we’re not sure there’s really an easy fix for this particular problem. Making store mannequins larger seems to be a step in the right direction, but it still only allows people who are exactly the same shape and size as the mannequins to be able to relate to them: in fashion, there really is no such thing as “one size fits all”, and no matter what size they make their models and mannequins, retails will always end up excluding someone.