You may have seen the news recently, but Nike introduced some plus-size mannequins into its flagship London shop, and well, it caused some people to claim that the brand was “celebrating and promoting obesity”. Excuse me while I roll my eyes into the back of my head.
Now listen, I don’t care where you stand on the issue of body positive, but I am going to have to call shade on these people having a massive freakout on the Internet about curvy mannequins.
You know why? Because people of all sizes, even fat people, are allowed to exercise and the size of a person’s body cannot determine health – period. Let’s unpack this a little bit more.
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Our society’s preoccupation with beauty is almost obsessive. We have these standards we’ve been taught from a young age: be tall, skinny, have blonde hair, and fair skin. Stats have shown that 68 percent of American women wear a size 14 or above, which means the average everyday woman going out to shop in the US clothing industry identifies as plus size.
More and more, we need to be smashing down the Western beauty standards and fighting to have conversations around what bodies, what beauty standards, and what ideals are “normal” and therefore beautiful.
One way to start that: mannequins in retail shops because visibility matters.
As a fat person, people like to make off-handed comments to me, in one form or another, about my body. Not only is it obnoxious, but it is upsetting. These same people will also go online, and make comments saying how fat people should ‘lose weight’.
If we reflect on the Nike situation, these plus-size mannequins were wearing activewear – to know you, work out.
Not that any fat person should have to work out and want to lose weight as if the two are mutually exclusive. But many fat folks can find certain activities and spaces — like gyms — intimidating. So getting to see a body type like theirs being represented matters.
Furthermore, no matter what fat folks say or do, we live in a world which has largely accepted the idea that being fat is bad and being slim is beautiful.
When you’re attacking a plus-size mannequin, you’re actually being super oppressive with behavior that hinges on concern-trolling and fat shaming.
Body image is developed in early childhood and more often than not, teens and youth will exhibit body dissatisfaction. Although this is just a mannequin, it gives us the opportunity to start having more body positive conservations with teens and youth and start breaking the barriers on who lives in a marginalized body. It can be a reminder to people that, ‘Yes, I’m here’ and that your body matters.
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While I want to believe that others are naturally good, the fact is that weight and size discrimination still happens, and this is perfectly demonstrated by the Nike situation.
All the time, brands will introduce plus-sizes into their stores or online but won’t showcase them on plus-size bodies or busts. To me, that shows that they haven’t fully thought about creating a retail environment that includes me, and my body.
Quite frankly if you want my money but are alienating a portion of your customer base – that’s not just terrible business, it is offensive.
At the end of the day, the reason we need to keep fighting to have different sized mannequins is simple: it’s about visibility and it’s about fighting beauty standards.
Yeah, these mannequins can cost anywhere from $300-1000 but at the end of the day, think of how it will make one of your customers feel. That feeling is priceless!
Featured Image: Instagram/@sophiehblnutrition
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