THE BLOG

Do Plus Size Mannequins Encourage Obesity?

20/08/2014 14:05 BST | Updated 19/10/2014 10:59 BST

I have a google alert set up to let me know about plus size stories and this particular story from REVEAL caught my attention.

We all know plus size is hot topic, although this plus size mannequin story is old, as Debenhams made this move some time ago so evidently Reveal and Steve Miller are for some reason just racking up old ground (presumably because Steve's new show Fat Families is going to be on tv soon).

Steve 'a weight loss expert' feels the move of having size 16 mannequins in stores is extremely dangerous and rather than try and make women who may have low self esteem because of their size feel more acceptable in their bodies we should shame them by further ostracising them from society and try to make them hate themselves more... a tough love approach.

And I quote 'Many overweight women have extremely low self-esteem. Plus-size mannequins simply put out the message: stay fat, stay miserable, you'll always be obese anyway. They're cruel and insensitive and will do nothing but inflate obesity figures.' (Steve Miller)

There are a couple of issues with this paragraph.

1. The assumption that all people below a size 16 are overly joyous and fulfilled.

2. The assumption everyone a size 16 or above is unbearably miserable and sitting at home sobbing into a packet (or two) or hobnobs.

3. The pure stupidity that making clothes and displaying them on a size 16 mannequin will actually inflate obesity figures. If Steve thinks this is the cause of obesity then I'm going to have to question whether his expertise came from the University of Toy town.

oh and 4. That health is totally dependent on size.

Now that we have worked out that essentially Steve's argument comes from an extremely narrow minded, poorly researched place, what next?

Well to start with let us clarify a few things.

Firstly Steve, although I doubt you'll be able to tear your eyes away from staring at your slim self in the mirror long enough to read this.

Not all women size 16+ are unhealthy. Just as a starting point you might want to make a not of the fact that women are all shaped and sized differently which result in different dress sizes and in a high street that sizes everything on a whim what is a 16 anyway? On that not, just as a by line you might want to chat to some of the industries top size 16 plus size models or the many women above a size 16 who exercise and eat well - I know this will shatter the illusion of cupboards rammed full of sweets, but it is true. Not all size 16+ women are unhealthy.

I'll pause for you to recover from that bombshell.

Not all women below a size 16 are healthy. Because health is not about size. It is about the stuff we put in our body and how much we use and move it. I hate to break it to you Steve but that is just like basic science, where did you say you got your expertise from? Just as women above a 16 can be healthy and unhealthy so too can women on the other end be healthy and unhealthy - see how that works?

Next up... the whole shaming thing. See if that were true, if that was the answer... wouldn't we all be skinny? Because from where I'm sitting (don't worry I've done some exercise today Steve) bigger women have always been body shamed by the media, other women, men, children, pretty much everyone. Insults are hurled, tweets are trolled and magazines are rammed with how to be a better more fulfilled person (read: skinnier) and yet here we are, with the average size of a woman in the UK at a 16. If you think it is as simple as shaming and belittling women to hate themselves then there is something far more sinister going here I'm afraid.

Women historically have been taught to live in the male gaze and hate themselves, to judge themselves by societies standards and hold their physicality above everything else.

Is it so wrong that we learn to judge ourselves by higher standards? Are you so upset Steve that women might find a way to love themselves, improve their self esteem and be able to take control of their lives and live the way they choose? Because if centuries or shaming women hasn't improved anything then how can it really be seen as the solution.

As mentioned above health is dependent on what we put into our bodies and how much we move. We live an age of convenience. Of 24 hour tv channels, the internet and fast food. We live in a time when it is cheaper to purchase a bucket of fried chicken than it is a salad. Gym memberships are seen as a right of passage for the wealthy, as is of course the weekly organic veg basket, while we forget that in these tough economic times people need to feed their families anyway they can and know how. Do you honestly think Steve that the countries health rests on a few plastic people?

But lastly and I mean this sincerely, don't judge a book by it's cover. Don't tell me how happy or sad someone is by looking at the label in their t-shirt. Instead take a look at their heart and see if it is in fact bursting with greatness. You can't measure happiness with a tape measure.