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Female high street fashion mannequins are “unrealistically thin”

A study found that mannequins used to promote clothes in stores seem to encourage “ultra-thin” body ideals, as the Independent reports.

The study was published in the Journal of Eating Disorders and found that the average female mannequin body size was representing a “severely underweight woman”.

Mannequins from national retailers in two UK city high streets have been observed by Dr. Eric Robinson and the team from the University of Liverpool’s institute of psychology. Out of the 32 female mannequins they studied, they discovered that all of the, had an underweight body size using visual rating scales.


Meanwhile, male mannequins were significantly larger than the average female mannequin. Only 8% of them represented an underweight body size for a man.

Dr Robinson said: “Our survey… produced consistent results; the body size of female mannequins represented that of extremely underweight human women.

“Because ultra-thin ideals encourage the development of body image problems in young people, we need to change the environment to reduce emphasis on the value of extreme thinness.”

Robinson thinks that altering the size of mannequins will not solve body image problems amoung young people; however, the existing “ultra-thin” body types are “likely to reinforce inappropriate and unobtainable body ideals”.

“Given the prevalence of body image problems and disordered eating in young people is worryingly high, positive action that challenges communication of ultra-thin ideal may be of particular benefit to children, adolescents and young adult females,” he advised.

In 2015, high street store Topshop got rid of one of its mannequins after a Facebook post from a customer complaining about the mannequin’s size went viral. In 2016, Debenhams announced that they will be displaying size 16 mannequins in all its stores.

Daisy Wilder