Store mannequins are ‘severely underweight’ and represent ‘medically unhealthy’ versions of girls’ bodies, says new study

The research says 100 per cent of our high street models are worryingly thin

A study from University of Liverpool has confirmed that the mannequins we see on the high street are far too thin to reflect the average woman, in fact you would have to be “severely underweight” to be the size of a mannequin.

The research, published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, found that every single mannequin on the high street – 100 per cent of them, just let that sink in – represented an underweight body size. In contrast male mannequins were significantly larger, and only eight per cent of male mannequins represented and underweight body size. If we actually looked anything like the mannequins which model our clothes, we’d be “medically unhealthy”, the study finds.

Dr Eric Robinson, who led the study, said: “We became interested in this topic after seeing some news reports about members of the general public noticing that some mannequins in fashion stores were disturbingly thin. Around the same time we had also read news coverage that fashion retailers had responded to this concern and adopted more appropriate sized mannequins, so it felt like an interesting research question to examine.”

Robinson said that the “ultra-thin ideals” the mannequins represented encouraged the development of body image problems and potentially eating disorders, and emphasised the need for change in an environment which “emphasises the value of extreme thinness”.

He added: “We of course are not saying that altering the size of high street fashion mannequins will on its own ‘solve’ body image problems.  What we are instead saying is that presentation of ultra-thin female bodies is likely to reinforce inappropriate and unattainable body ideals, so as a society we should be taking measures to stop this type of reinforcement.

“Given that the prevalence of body image problems and disordered eating in young people is worryingly high, positive action that challenges communication of ultra-thin ideals may be of particular benefit to children, adolescents and young adult females.”