The Topshop mannequin debate – too skinny or just right?

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Our fashion writer, Jess Davis explores one of this summer’s most important ethical debates in fashion: are mannequins an unrealistic representation of women or not?

The popular high street retailer has been the cause of a social media storm, when a user tweeted a picture demonstrating the unrealistic expectations put forward to women today.


Becky Hopper, a twitter user, tweeted a photograph of her friend who is a UK size 8/10 next to one of the mannequins. She accompanied the picture with the hashtags #poorbodyimage and #irresponsible.

The picture tweeted by Becky Hopper.

The picture tweeted by Becky Hopper

This exaggerated the dummies unrealistic long skinny legs and has resulted in the store being criticised for promoting a poor self body image.

Consequently, social media has been dominated with over 6,000 shares and Hopper’s account has been flooded with complaints and varying opinions on the Topshop mannequin debate and other stores such as Primark, who had a similar issue previously.

Hopper then took to writing a moving blog post explaining how she didn’t intend to body shame skinny girls with her picture and hashtags, in response to a flee of angry responses online.

Topshop released a statement saying: “the mannequin in question has been used in stores for the past four years and is based on a standard UK size 10.”

They added: “The overall height, at 187cm, is taller than the average girl and the form is stylised one to have more impact in store and create a visual focus.”

Mannequins in a Topshop window display - too skinny?

Mannequins in a Topshop window display – too skinny?

As a result of all of this, the mannequins have been removed. This begs the question as to whether this is even addressing poor body image, or is it just removing it and not dealing with the underlying issue?

Mannequins are a form of female representation, and they will always be a part of this debate, so it’s possible that they should promote more self-love and a positive image.

Perhaps as a country we should follow in the foot steps of Venezula, who have changed the shape of their mannequins in response to a similar debate of exaggerated ideals of beauty.




Mannequins in Venezuela

Mannequins in Venezuela before they were changed to a more realistic representation of the female body.

Within UK fashion stores, most of our mannequins are a size eight or 10 and are around 6ft, which contrasts with the average size of the British woman who is closer to a size 16 and a height of 5ft 4in.


Amidst all this, the fashion industry has made a conscious effort to address this issue. Should all our mannequins represent that of the average sized British woman at size 16? Tell us what you think by tweeting us at @LibertyBelleMag.


Words by Jessica Davis

All pictures taken from Pinterest



Jess is your Deputy Editor

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