How Size 8+ Mannequins Might Actually Help Retailers

You might’ve seen it on Facebook or Twitter last 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.

hmmannequinsIn the photo, which surfaced on Facebook last Monday, the mannequins wear sexy lingerie (and questionable knee-socks, but whatever) and have visibly softer bellies and fuller thighs than your typical mannequin. The photo received tons of comments along the lines of “Finally!” and “About time!” from women around the world who are — gasp! — sick and tired of seeing a cookie-cutter “ideal” of the female body in their retailers’ windows: pin-thin legs, narrow hips and a waist so nipped you could pinch it between your thumb and forefinger.

According to Yahoo, most North American retail mannequins wear a size 4 or 6 (I’d argue that many 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 4 and 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?

Using mannequins that are size 8 and up could actually help retailers sell clothes. 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, and they will talk about it, and they’ll very likely love it, as was the case with the Swedish H&M gals.

I’m not suggesting that retailers replace the current models with size 8+ mannequins, because that would only alienate skinny girls, which violates the spirit of inclusiveness and acceptance that I’m rallying for. It would just be really cool to see a size 10 mannequin rockin’ a metallic romper alongside her size 2 mannequin-BFF sporting a fuchsia pleather miniskirt.

Why can’t our retailers’ 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 Kate Middleton-thin, but also not “plus-size,” or even “curvy” (I’ve got the full hips, but God seems to have gotten distracted partway through the job, as evidenced by my not-so-voluptuous torso), I might be more inclined to try on those neon floral cigarette pants if I saw a size 8+ mannequin looking fly in them; 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.

The former scenario is a win-win: the retailer would make the sale and I would score a hot new pair of pants.

It turns out the mannequins in the photo were nothing but an online hoax. Which actually breaks my heart. Mannequins that are larger than size 4 or 6 should be commonplace in retail stores. Maybe the positive response, from men and women, to the imaginary Swedish mannequins will inspire retailers to break the mold and dare to use mannequins with more realistic proportions.

Edited from the original version which appeared on


6 thoughts on “How Size 8+ Mannequins Might Actually Help Retailers

  1. I couldn’t agree more. As the image of the “Perfect” women is in every magazine, billboard and mannequin, our young girls are picking up on the wrong message! I believe portraying an image of a fit and healthy model is the way to go!

    • Thanks for the comment! It’s actually quite sad that this is even an issue. Including larger mannequins in the mix should be the norm, not something we consider “progressive.”

  2. yes, unfortunate this was a hoax. yes, unfortunate this is an issue. mass market of control for profit. it is a vicious circle. now, welcome to individuality. where one can just be with themselves whomever that self is. although i do not use, or like the chemical ingredients of a certain skin care brand, i do applaud them for having a self esteem program for women of all ages. they encourage women just to be themselves and love every moment of it. their ads are wonderful. turning this into something positive, perhaps it can make one a strong individual personality wise. knowing yourself and having a high regard for who you are. being you are bombarded with certain images, it makes you look at your own self, and turn that into nourishment. accept yourself. respect yourself. love comes in all forms. when we pass on to the next plain ( “when we go to paris” as they say) you take your spirit with you, not your body. materials shall pass, but your soul that is another story (even if you are agnostic). blessings for all!

  3. I’m a fatter-than-typical male and I’m always discouraged by shopping in stores where I have to wear XXXL (but usually they don’t make a size big enough for me). I think retailers are damaging on body image and it would be remarkable to see one make a step towards encouraging realistic body norms. I was, however, surprised by the other side of the reaction who felt the mannequins were “condoning obesity”.
    I personally thought this was a huge step forward and a surprising one to come from H&M.
    Too bad it was all an internet lie.

    Great post!

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