New Mannequins Aren’t Fat, They’re Realistic

Why you should love the skin you're in

Jenna Bergen

There are multiple reasons that I disagree with the blog, Fat Mannequins … So Wrong,” written by Philly Post contributor Kelly Rowell. 

First of all, the entire message of this blog goes against everything I stand for and the message I strive to send on the Be Well Philly blog: Love your body, take care of it as best you can and enjoy it to the fullest. To me, that means fueling it with healthy foods, staying active and accepting the natural shape of your body—not comparing yourself to fake, unhealthy ideals.

Second, I applaud any business that has decided to stop displaying its clothing only on emaciated-looking, twig-limbed, Barbie-like drones. Why? Because these mannequins don’t come anywhere close to resembling a real body—even a healthy, super-slim one. With so many women struggling with eating disorders, borderline eating disorders and body dissatisfaction, I think it’s merely a small step in the right direction. Do I think these new, curvier mannequins look totally realistic to all women? No. Do I think they will instantly solve the complex issue of young women striving to conform to unhealthy standards of beauty? Of course not. Fixing this problem will take a long time, and it can start with a lot more adult women setting the good example for young girls that it’s much better to focus on how you feel and what your body is capable of than focusing solely on your outward appearance.

Rowell asks, “ … aren’t window displays supposed to be about something to aspire to? Who daydreams about being rotund?” This only further perpetuates the awful idea that women should want to look anything like a mannequin. Yes, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight to ward off diabetes and a host of other diseases. But our health should be focus. Our bodies weren’t meant to merely be used as clothing hangers.

One of Rowell’s arguments for keeping “fat mannequins” out of stores is that they are “bad for business” because “there is nothing particularly desirable about lacy underwear when it’s stretched over broad, white plastic hips.” This comment only shows how warped so many women have become about what healthy, beautiful bodies actually look like; it’s also the kind of view that we should be trying to curtail if we ever want women to draw confidence from anywhere other than the reflection in the mirror and to weigh their worth with something other than a scale.

Honestly, I am shocked that Rowell has such a harsh view on curvier mannequins. Only a few months ago, she blogged about how frustrating it was that nearly all of her friends on the Main Line had borderline eating disorders in the postHunger Chic.” “My friends don’t like to eat,” she wrote. “Food is so out now. Apparently starving yourself is not just for teenagers and Hollywood starlets anymore, but for chic suburban over-40 moms.” Has Rowell ever stopped to think that her friends’ unhealthy relationship with food and body image stems—at least partly—from comparing themselves to false ideals? Her current thoughts sure seem like a contradiction to me. And an unhealthy one at that.