Topshop shamed into withdrawing 'ridiculously shaped' mannequins
Social media. It's a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it can go off on one creating a hooha over an offensive ad that is actually found not to be offensive at all. And at other times, a single disgruntled young woman can shame a national retail chain into rethinking its mannequins.
In the latest Facebook-offensive, Laura Berry, a customer services assistant from Stroud, Gloucestershire, took a photograph of one of a Topshop mannequins, calling it out for being “quite frankly ridiculously shaped”, and calling for solidarity in her deciding to use her "size 10/12 legs to walk straight out of your store”.
The offending mannequin in question, which the company claimed to be a size 10, was “stylised to have more impact" and was considerably taller than the average British woman at a whopping 6'1". Within hours of being posted, Laura's post on Topshop's Facebook page garnered more than 3,000 likes and more than 700 comments, which even including a response from the retailer.
Laura accused the retail giant of a "lack of concern for a generation of extremely body conscious youth” saying that the stretched out mannequin would leave teenagers "wondering if that was what was expected of [their] bodies." She cited studies which showed that unrealistic mannequins made young, impressionable women feel insecure, ending with the fairly rant-filled rant “So what makes you feel you can ignore everything that’s been said and considered by other high street stores and even some high fashion designers? What makes you so superior, Topshop? Perhaps it’s about time you became responsible for the impression you have on women and young girls and helped them feel good about themselves rather than impose these ridiculous standards.”
However, the vitriol seems to have taken Topshop by surprise, who admitted that the mannequins, which are made of solid fibreglass, were an unusual shape as "their form needs to be of certain dimensions to allow clothing to be put on and removed easily." Novertheless, in a public response, Topshop have stated that, following the
very exceedingly cross frank views expressed by Laura Berry and other customers, it was “not placing any further orders on this style of mannequin”, which was “not meant to be a representation of the average female body.”
But is this really a victory? Last year Topshop were previously slated after a size 8/10 girl posed next to a Topshop mannequin, where her legs looked like treetrunks in comparison. And, much like catwalk models, aren't mannequins supposed to be angular frames from which to drapes clothes, rather than an aspirational ideal for young people? Still, it's a win for people power- it just remains to be seen whether the high street will adopt a more realistic style shop display- or whether they'd smply like to sell as many clothes as possible...