Love Your Body

Topshop drops unrealistically thin mannequins after angry Facebook complaint

Controversy over the use of super-thin models in the fashion industry is nothing new, but it seems companies geared toward marketing to the average woman are starting to listen.

U.K.-based retailer Topshop announced they would stop “placing any further orders” on a certain type of skinny mannequin after one shopper publicly complained, saying the company's "lack of concern for a generation of extremely body conscious youth" was irresponsible.

"Dear Topshop, having been paid yesterday, I decided to spoil myself by purchasing a new pair of my favourite Jamie jeans. However, I was stopped in my tracks by the mannequin in the picture I've shared with this post," Laura Kate Berry wrote on the store's Facebook page July 22 alongside a photo of a rail-thin mannequin in the Bristol Cribbs Causeway store. "As you are aware, the year is 2015. A time when I like to believe we are conscious of the harsh unrealities often imposed on us by the fashion industry."

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Berry continued in the lengthy post to say the mannequins were "ridiculously shaped" and the use of them was imposing "ridiculous standards." She called on the company to make a change and asked that they take responsibility "for the impression [they] have on women and young girls and help them feel good about themselves."

The post garnered online support with more than 400 shares and 3,000 likes, and Topshop responded quickly. "The views of our customers are extremely valuable and we apologise if we have not lived up to the levels of service that we aim to deliver," the retailer wrote in a response. Topshop said the particular mannequin in question is based on a U.K. size 10 (U.S. size 6), and that "certain dimensions" help with the removal of garments.

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This isn't the first time the fast-fashion chain has come under fire for its use of thin mannequins. In October 2014, shopper Becky Hopper took to Twitter to share a photo of her size 8/10 (U.S. 4/6) friend standing next to one of the fiberglass models showing the striking difference between the size of their legs. Like Berry's post, the message was retweeted and favorited thousands of times, proving there's a growing backlash against the unrealistic body images promoted by the fashion industry.

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In fact, some companies are taking this outrage to the next level by not only removing thin mannequins from their stores, but increasing the size of them to reflect the average woman. Debenhams became the first department store to display size 16 (U.S. 12) mannequins in its 179 stores in March 2014, and urged other retailers to reflect the shape of “real women” in Britain. That same year, 28-year-old Denise Bidot became the first plus-size Latina model to walk in two "straight-size" runway shows at New York Fashion Week, showing off her size 14 figure.

While change in the industry is sure to be slow, Berry's message brings to mind young girls dealing with body-image issues in a society that often promotes that "thin is in."

"Be comfortable in your skin ladies," Berry concluded in her post. "And may any changes you choose to make be your choice, for the reason of good health rather than what is perceived as fashion."

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