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Topshop Responds to Criticism Regarding Too-Thin Mannequin Displays

Topshop is the latest retailer whose store mannequins are causing an uproar amongst customers. The British fast fashion peddler was called out by a shopper for impossibly skinny mannequins displayed in-store. Becky Hopper, who was shopping with her friend at a Topshop location at St. Stephen’s Shopping Center in Hull, England, noticed that the mannequins had extremely skinny legs – legs that were, in fact, significantly smaller than her friend’s, whom she photographed next to the display in comparison. Hopper’s friend is a size 8/10 in UK sizes, which here in America is a 4/6 – already on the slender side. The photo she took went viral and has many asking Topshop for answers.

Following the overwhelming response to the picture, Hopper took to her blog to offer the details on her experience. “We walked into the shop and were in absolute shock at what faced us,” she writes. “The mannequins were thinner than any human being I have seen in my life.” Hopper says that while she realizes eating disorders aren’t exclusively caused by skinny mannequins, she argues that it is these sorts of representations of women’s bodies that continue to exacerbate the problem. “This is yet another portrayal of a very thin female body, which has been forced down the throats of society for decades. This clearly won’t help girls be comfortable with the skin they’re in.”

Hopper then goes on to address the concerned parties who responded to her tweet, accusing her of body shaming thin women. “The mannequins in Topshop are all this size and misrepresent a normal body image for their demographic – young influential girls. We accept that there are naturally very thin girls in the world – which again, we aren’t saying is a negative thing – but considering the average dress size for the UK female is a size 16, this mannequin is clearly way off the mark.”

Hopper is hoping that peeling back the curtain will encourage retailers to make more responsible, positive decisions about the images they’re displaying in their stores. “The point of my tweet was to hopefully get Topshop to show a more diverse range of body shapes and sizes with their mannequins. No, mannequins aren’t supposed to look EXACTLY like a human, but seeing how they are the first image of the female body you see as you walk into stores, they should portray different body sizes, not just very skinny.”

Here’s what Topshop had to say when we reached out for a statement:

TOPSHOP has long made it a priority to showcase a healthy size image to its customer from the choice of models used in the campaigns, to the stories run online and on the blog.  The mannequins TOPSHOP uses are not bespoke to TOPSHOP and are supplied by a company that has been working with leading retailers for the past 30 years. The mannequin in question has been used in stores the past 4 years and is based on a standard UK size 10. The overall height, at 187cm, is taller than the average girl and the form is a stylised one to have more impact in store and create a visual focus. Mannequins are made from solid fibreglass, so in order for clothing to fit, the form of the mannequins needs to be of certain dimensions to allow clothing to be put on and removed; this is therefore not meant to be a representation of the average female body.”

[via The Independent, beckyleighhopper]