Social media has been the battleground for some serious debates lately, especially when it comes to body shaming.
Many women’s retailers have stimulated these discussions with social media users fighting back.
A huge recent example of this is when Topshop was under fire after a student from Hull, Becky Leigh Hopper, brought to social media’s attention the size of their mannequins.
Becky Leigh Hopper posted a picture of her friend Georgia Bibby stood next to a mannequin and commented on the notable size difference in the legs.
This started a huge twitter debate where her tweet was praised for bringing attention to Topshop’s ‘body shaming’ and what that could do to the younger generations view of their own bodies. An online petition was started to promote a diverse range of healthy body types throughout all Arcadia group mannequins.
Topshop released a statement saying they had long “made it a priority to showcase a healthy size image”, also saying: “The mannequin in question has been used in stores the past four years and is based on a standard UK size 10. The overall height, at 187cm, is taller than the average girl and the form is a stylised one to have more impact in store and create a visual focus. Mannequins are made from solid fibreglass, so in order for clothing to fit, the form of the mannequins needs to be of certain dimensions to allow clothing to be put on and removed; this is therefore not meant to be a representation of the average female body.”
Although the photo that was posted shows a major size difference between the supposed ‘size 10’ mannequin and Georgia Bibby’s legs.
There was also a backlash accusing Becky Hopper of body shaming skinny girls. This is something she strongly denies in her blog, claiming ‘[she doesn’t] have a bad word to say about skinny girls, we believe that all girls are beautiful and all should be comfortable in their own skin, whether they be a size 4 or a 24.’ https://beckyleighhopper.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/topshops-idea-of-normal/
According to an online survey to see whether or not the size of Topshop mannequins affects regular people who shop there regularly, of those that responded most were women aged between 18-24. There were mixed opinions on whether Topshop mannequins promoted a healthy body image, one person thought ‘they have features which are not comparable to the female body’ whilst another commented that ‘at the end of the day they’re mannequins not people’.
They have noticed how these can have an effect on how these women have felt about themselves with comments like ‘I feel like I need to look like the mannequins to wear Topshop clothes as I will get judged because I do not have the “perfect” body’. However in Topshop’s defence another comment was made that ‘you see staff wearing the clothes and this for me is more realistic’ this shows that while Topshop’s mannequins are very thin that doesn’t mean that they are promoting an unhealthy body image.
One opinion that was given in the survey brought up the fact that those shops that only stock larger sizes such SimplyBe and Jacamo, these shops seem to never come under fire for them exclusively selling bigger sizes.
Overall the survey suggests that while some can be affected by the unhealthy body image being promoted others just tend to ignore it, but the main way that most believe it should be solved is by having a variety of sizes of mannequins in Topshop and other retailers aswell.
Of those that took part in the poll most believe that a variety of mannequin sizes should be used in order to represent a healthier body image. However one women who looked at this debate from a business point of view ‘ the models they use are there to sell clothes (or other products).. The clothes generally always look better on tall slim models.’ implying it has nothing to do with the body image it is giving out, it is purely for sales.
Other companies have also hit the headlines and consequently been discussed on social networks such as the Victoria Secret campaign of the ‘perfect body’. This resulted in twitter users slamming back with many tweets and pictures being posted using #IAmPerfect
Frances Black from Leeds University is one of the students behind the Victoria Secrets campaign..
This and other tweets led to Victoria Secret changing its campaign fro ‘the perfect body’ to ‘a body for every body’.
Another retailer that started an online debate was the introduction of Calvin Kliens ‘plus size’ model who is in fact a size 12.
This tweet shows the general opinions of twitter users who think that the idea that a size 10 model is classed as plus size is ridiculous.
All of these controversy’s have obviously hit the headlines but also have caused a social media storm like never before, with anyone who’s anyone being able to give their own opinions on the situation.
Basically women’s retailers shouldn’t body shame any more because whether it was unintentional or not social media will backlash almost instantly.
ONLINE SURVEY RESULTS CAN BE FOUND HERE- https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-C786X5BV/