Earlier this week, luxury lingerie brand La Perla was forced to remove several mannequins from their stores after customer complaints that they were too offensive to be seen in shop windows.
What was so offensive? The mannequin, like several women who bought what it was wearing and every model in their print campaigns, had visible ribs. After receiving messages and complaints over Twitter, such as the one below, the chain made the decision to remove them from their US stores.
This is hardly a new story, for several years now there have been campaigns for stores to use bigger mannequins on the high street in order to better reflect the average woman on the street. As a result of this, last year British retailer Debenhams started using some (UK) size 16 mannequins in their stores as the average British woman is a size 16.
This decision, on the whole, was seen as a positive one and the store was praised for helping tackle body confidence issues many women faced when looking at mannequins much smaller than themselves (most British retailers use an 8).
However does this not work both ways? Not every woman is a size 16 and not everyone is offended by the sight of a ribcage. If complaints are being made by genuine customers then they would see ribs on the ads in store, mail lists and promotions anyway – and they’re real people.
Whether it is right or not, or whether it is to your taste, fashion models are thin, so thin that they have visible bones. If we can accommodate the reality of the size of the average woman in the UK, why can’t we accommodate the size of the average woman we see wearing their products just because she’s smaller?
Moaning about a mannequin won’t change the image of the brand; it barely even changes the image of the window. Changing the mannequin doesn’t change the model or the campaigns. If you’re going to complain and be offended by something, make it something that matters – the person.