Topshop Apologises For 'Ridiculously Shaped' Mannequin After Facebook Status Goes Viral

We all have the power to demand change when it comes to the way women's bodies are represented in the world of fashion, as Laura Berry has recently proved.

On a recent trip to a Topshop store in Bristol, Berry took a photograph of a "ridiculously shaped" mannequin and posted it to Facebook, asking Topshop to consider the impact their advertising and merchandise may have on women's body image.

After her status gained more than 3,000 likes and 400 shares, the clothes store agreed to stop using such mannequins and apologised for any upset caused.

Writing on Facebook, Berry said: "This mannequin is quite frankly ridiculously shaped. Young women aspire to the somewhat cult image your store offers. Which I'm sure you're aware by your sales figures and hashtags on Instagram.

"Yet not one mannequin in your store showed anything bigger than a size 6.

"In fact I'm not even sure the one in the picture is even that. So today, I'm calling you out Topshop, on your lack of concern for a generation of extremely body conscious youth."

Berry went on to say that although she is "old enough to know better" she was concerned about the negative impact the mannequin could have on impressionable teens.

"I'm fairly certain if any of us were to witness this in our teenage years, it would have left us wondering if that was what was expected of our bodies," she said.

"To be honest, I'm sure many clever, strong and beautiful women of any age are made to feel insecure by your mannequins and advertisements.

"Numerous studies have been carried out on the effect of unrealistic mannequins in stores and numerous stories have been shared in the media too.

"So what makes you feel you can ignore everything that's been said and considered by other high street stores and even some high fashion designers? What makes you so superior Topshop?

"Perhaps it's about time you became responsible for the impression you have on women and young girls and helped them feel good about themselves rather than impose these ridiculous standards."

The status soon went viral, with hundreds of people commenting in agreement with Berry.

It wasn't long before the official Topshop Facebook page commented on Berry's status. They explained that while the mannequin is based on a standard UK size 10, it has been stylised to "have more impact in store" - the overall height of the mannequin is 187cm, which is taller than the average woman, they admitted.

"We think it’s important to showcase a healthy size image, from the choice of models used in campaigns, to the stories featured online and on the blog," Topshop wrote on Facebook.

"As the mannequins are solid fibreglass, their form needs to be of certain dimensions to allow clothing to be put on and removed easily; this is therefore not meant to be a representation of the average female body.

"That said, we have taken yours and other customers’ opinions and feedback on board and going forward we are not placing any further orders on this style of mannequin.

"The views of our customers are extremely valuable and we apologise if we have not lived up to the levels of service that we aim to deliver."

This isn't the first time that a high street store has been accused of promoting unhealthy body types by their choice of mannequin.

Earlier this year, Whistles was forced to apologise for a bodice that appeared in one of their stores which had visibly protruding bones.

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle at the time, eating disorder charity Beat said: "Retailers should consider very seriously the messages that they put across and we should all play a part in giving a generation of young people confidence in their bodies, their appearance and their sense of wellbeing.

"Obviously underweight mannequins such as this are unhelpful in fuelling the continuous exposure of the unrealistic ‘ideals’ so often portrayed. People who are at risk, or already affected by an eating disorder can be triggered or maintained in the disorder by the images they see everywhere."

When will the retailers learn?

Jennie Runk

Body Image Heroes