Late last week, these lovely ladies started going viral on facebook. Apparently a shopper named Rebecka, took pictures of these mannequins at a store in Sweden and posted them on her blog. This image was picked up by Women’s Rights News and posted to their facebook page with along with the statement, “Store mannequins in Sweden. They look like real women. The US should invest in some of these.” Since then, the photos have been seen by over 600,000 people and have become something of a worldwide sensation. There was some initial confusion. At one point, someone suggested that the mannequins were being displayed at H&M. When H&M denied that the mannequins were theirs, some media entities (including the Washington Post) declared that the whole thing was a hoax. But Rebecka assures us that the mannequins are real and are currently on display at a major Swedish department store called Åhléns.
So why such a fuss over a couple of clothing dummies? It seems some of the excitement stems from the fact that these models seem to have bodies that are at least a little bit closer to average women around the world. So often store mannequins are proportioned much closer to the tall and thin range of the human weight spectrum. While some women are six feet tall and a size 4 or 6, this is certainly not average. The Åhléns mannequins are a little softer and rounder. Maybe they look a little bit less like the personification of a media ideal of creatures who wear fashionable clothing and a little more like, you know, people. (Frankly, I adore the fact that they are wearing socks along with their pretty undies. I mean it gets freakin’ COLD in the winter, ya know?!)
It’s interesting that these mannequins have attracted so much attention. I mean they aren’t sporting alien antennas or tentacles. They were not launched with a smug press release or a huge fanfare. They were simply displayed, wearing socks and undies in a Swedish department store. And just because they look a little bit less like an “ideal” and a little more “real” to many people, they have been viewed over half a million times since last Friday. One would hope that other clothing stores and fashion designers and advertisers are taking note. What is the dollar value of the marketing that this department store in Sweden is receiving just for taking a chance on giving its customers something for which they have obviously been waiting? Is somebody taking note of the fact that there is a lot of pent up desire for seeing clothing displayed on a variety of body shapes and sizes to which more than just a very select few women might possibly relate? Good heavens, I certainly hope so!
The last five years have not generally been kind to retailers. And while it seems that sales are starting to pick up, I don’t think many would suggest that business is booming. So it’s especially important now for retailers to focus on what customers want. And it seems to me, what customers want, is to see clothing displayed in a way that reminds them a little bit less of some industry-driven ideal of how they should look and a little bit more of themselves. Here’s hoping the message is finally getting through.
The Fat Chick
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