Slim mannequins make women feel bad about themselves

13 September 2017 - 12:59 By Suthentira Govender
File photo of mannequins.
File photo of mannequins.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

Tiny-waisted mannequins with long legs and enviable busts create self-esteem issues among women shoppers‚ a new international study has found.

The study conducted by the University of British Columbia found that consumers with low-self esteem are more likely to have a negative reaction to clothing on a mannequin than those with higher self-esteem.

Researcher professor Darren Dahl said: “When that mannequin is an example of perfection‚ it reminds people who are vulnerable that they don’t measure up. The problem is the beauty ideal that mannequins represent. When people feel they don’t meet that ideal‚ their view of the product dims as well.”

In terms of the study‚ participants were first questioned about their self-esteem over their appearance. They then evaluated clothing such as bikinis and dresses on the mannequins. When researchers knocked a mannequin’s beauty down by marking the face‚ removing the hair or the head entirely‚ participants warmed up to the apparel worn by the mannequins.

“Although mannequins are used across the retail industry worldwide‚ little was previously known about how they actually affect shopper behaviour‚” said Dahl.

Local plus-size model Charnelle Paulse said she could not identify with super-slim mannequins.

“I feel exactly the same. The mannequins are not relatable. I don't know when last I got inspired by a dress a mannequin was wearing. There's no sense of realness or 'I can wear that too'‚ she said.

“Eighty percent of our population doesn't look like this. This is where the media and marketing plays with our minds. It needs to stop. If you are forced to use mannequins in your store‚ use ones that are more of a representation of what real women looks like.”

Singer Tia Black said she always had an issue with mannequins.

“They perpetuate the idea that women are supposed to be a certain height and weight to be seen as attractive and these measurements for me are not really attainable as I am short and not a size 4 and never will be‚” said Black.

“One suffering from an already tainted self image can be further affected by how the clothes look on the mannequin as opposed to how it ends up looking on yours.

“That being said‚ learning to dress for one’s body is really important and the mannequin can’t be blamed for what society has put on a pedestal as 'the perfect body'. The mannequin itself isn’t the problem; it is the message being relayed that there is only one shape or size of the mannequin‚” said Black.