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How Size 8+ Mannequins Might Actually Help Retailers

UPDATE: We're sad to say that the widely-circulated photo of the Swedish H&M mannequins was an online hoax. H&M's Canada's rep confirmed to The Loop that the models were never used in H&M stores in Sweden or any other country.

You might've seen it posted on Facebook or Twitter this week -- a photo of two Swedish H&M mannequins with a little more "meat" on their "bones" than we're used to seeing in major North American retailers.

On Tuesday a blogger posted a photo of the Swedish mannequins with softer bellies and fuller thighs looking fab in sexy lingerie sets (however, those slouchy knee-socks are questionable) on Facebook. Not surprisingly, the photo received tons of comments along the lines of "Finally!" and "About time!" from women around the world who are tired of seeing the same cookie-cutter "ideal" of the female body in their retailer's windows: pin-thin legs, narrow hips and a waist so tiny you could practically pinch it between your thumb and forefinger.

According to Yahoo! Shine, most North American retail mannequins wear a size 4 or 6 (based on my experience as a consumer, I'd argue that some are more like a size 2), despite the fact that the average American woman wears a size 14. These retailers make clothing in sizes that are larger than a 4 or a 6, right? So why can't they use mannequins that look more like their customers and less like my prepubescent second-cousin to sell their clothing?

I believe that including mannequins that are a size 8 and up could actually help retailers sell clothing. Don't (mis)label the mannequins as "plus-size" or send out a press release announcing your new "curvier" mannequins. Just do it. Your customers will notice the change, and they will talk about it, and they'll very likely love it, as was the case Swedish H&M models. You might even acquire new customers because of it.

I'm not suggesting that retailers replace the current mannequins with size 8+ mannequins, because that would only alienate skinny girls, which violates the spirit of inclusiveness and acceptance I'm rallying for. I'm saying that it would be really cool to see a size 10 mannequin rockin' her mini pleated leather skirt alongside her size 2 mannequin-friend sporting a metallic romper; to make our retailer's windows and interiors reflect the real world, where women of all shapes and sizes exude confidence, beauty, power and style.

As a woman who isn't pin-thin, but also not "plus-size," or even curvy (I got the full hips, but God seems to have gotten distracted partway through the job, as evidenced in my smaller upper body), I might be more inclined to try on those floral neon cigarette pants if I saw a size 8+ mannequin rocking them in the store; whereas if I saw them on a size 4 mannequin, I might say something stupid like, "Oh, you have to be stick-thin to wear those," and walk away. See? The former situation is a win-win: the retailer would make the sale and I would score a sweet new pair of pants. 

So, kudos to H&M for introducing these gorgeous larger-than-size-4-or-6 mannequins and dressing them in sexy lingerie. Hopefully we'll see mannequins with similar proportions in their North American stores, which just might prompt other retailers to follow suit. In the words of women around the world, "It's about freakin' time!" 

Posted by Kate Drummond
2013-03-15, 10:58:10

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