The fashion industry has always had a narrow standards of beauty. I am reminded of this every day when I go the warehouse full of mannequins my company has recycled from upscale retail chains. 95% of the mannequins are tall, waif-thin, young and Anglo – clearly not representative of the population in the US.
But perhaps social media is fueling a “beauty revolution” signaling a change in what we define as beautiful. Two significant shifts have happened in the less than five months.
First, this photograph of a plus size lingerie-clad mannequin went viral. It was from a Swedish department store called Ahlens, (not H&M as falsely reported in many media outlets).
It had originally appeared on a blog post almost two years ago. But when it was reposted in March of this year on the Women’s Rights Facebook page, it caused an avalanche of media attention on the subject of body image.
As of today over 64,000 people made mostly favorable comments about it on the Women’s Rights Facebook page. We still don’t see many plus size mannequins in retail stores, but at least people know that plus size mannequins do exist. (We have over 6 different styles for sale at Mannequin Madness)
Secondly, a six year old interview with the Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch recently went viral. BTW, can you believe he is 68 years old?
Mr. Jeffries comments not only re-ignited the discussion of body image and the fashion industry, but caused it to explode. I think part of the reason the topic is so hot now is because his comments were so mean-spirited his comments AND because A&F sells men’s clothing.
Men now get to experience what women have been dealing with since forever – being judged on unrealistic standards of beauty. And when men get in the mix, it makes a difference.
The subject of body image is no longer just a woman’s issue, discussed primarily in fashion and lifestyle magazines/blogs. Almost every media outlet is covering it now thanks to A&F, even Forbes.com
Private individuals are using social media to wage their own campaigns protesting the fashion industry’s beauty bias. Whether it is posting videos on YouTube or comments on Facebook and Twitter. Change.org has started a petition to get A&F to make plus sizes. A boycott has not only been started, but is gathering steam. A scathing article on Elite Daily, “The Voice of Generation Y,” has fueled the discussion with its 1.6 million followers. ”
Greg Karber posted a YouTube video entitled “Abercrombie & Fitch Gets a Brand Readjustment #FitchTheHomeless,” which asks the public to go to their local thrift shops and purchase all of the Abercrombie & Fitch they can possibly grab and distribute the clothes to the homeless. “Together, we can make Abercrombie & Fitch the world’s number one brand of homeless apparel,” Karber says in the video.
Jes Baker (aka the Militant Baker) is a size 22 blogger did these spoof’s on the Abercrombie and Fitch ads. Her version of A&F is “attractive and fat” and her images have appeared all over the internet.
Although Mannequin Madness has been blogging about harmful impact the fashion industry has on a woman’s self esteem for years, it seems like this subject is finally starting to reach critical mass.
We’ve seen an increase in the sale of our plus size dress forms. Maybe one day – people of all sizes, colors and ages – will be well represented in the fashion industry.