Independent Woman

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Louise O'Reilly: As a plus size model, I am lost for words at La Perla's skeletal mannequins

Louise O'Reilly

Published 14/05/2014 | 16:06

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Picture: Michael Rudoy/Twitter
Picture: Michael Rudoy/Twitter

Mannequins have certainly become a platform for regular controversy- from the introduction of size 16 mannequins in Debenhams and H&M, to the upset caused by ultra thin figures in American J.C. Penney stores.

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Yesterday when the image of La Perla’s mannequin came to my attention I was lost for words. I found it hard to believe that one of the world’s biggest lingerie brands found it acceptable to have a mannequin produced showing a highly defined and protruding rib cage.

My definition of beauty is broad and I am all for diversity in fashion. I believe that every woman is naturally a different shape and size and it would be unnatural for us all to conform to the same body type. I do not believe that women should be considered any less beautiful whether they are a size 6 or a size 24.

We are all equals. However, when advertising comes into the equation, communication becomes displaced. By utilizing mannequins in just one kind of size or shape, other body types are singled out or under represented in society.

Some women naturally have a wide rib cage; I take that point on board. But La Perla did not produce a series of various ‘life like’ mannequins to represent women of different proportions. They picked one size of mannequin, with skeletal like qualities and placed them in their stores.

Showing a dummy figure of this nature immediately brings the issue of body image directly into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. My biggest question and concern is how the Directors of La Perla, those with authority could think this body image would be appealing and healthy for their customers.

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In recent years, size zero models have been banned from walking in fashion shows in Milan, London and Madrid, as the consistent imagery of underweight females was resulting in damaging ideals for women.

In 2009, Gap was criticized for the use of its incredibly thin figures which were later removed but for younger girls the mannequin images became and outlet for ‘Thinspiration’ encouragement; A group of individuals who choose anorexia nervosa as a lifestyle choice. 

Twice a year, designers showcase their collections to millions of viewers in person and online. However thousands of people walk past mannequins in various shops and department stores all over the world every single day. Should there be a new standard of mannequins brought to the forum, one which represents an array of female body types while promoting a healthy body image?

As I write this, my inbox continues to fill with emails from my readers, from those who have suffered eating disorders to those who just don’t feel good enough in the eyes of society.

This is about more than just a mannequin; it is about respect towards women and individual’s identity around the world.”

Louise runs the award winning style blog: Style Me Curvy.

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