Are you high? I assume that the powers-that-be at your organisation must be smoking some sort of illicit substance to sign off on store mannequins that have their bones sticking out.
For a female clothing chain who’s target market has been identified as “a younger fashion conscious customer”, do you really think that it’s a good idea to have this sort of display in your store for your predominately teenage female customer base to come in and witness? No, I wouldn’t have thought so.
Of course, seeing a mannequin with its ribs sticking out cannot be solely blamed for causing an eating disorder. After all, it is unlikely that a young girl who has never thought twice about her weight or appearance will walk in to Glassons, see your plastic fantastic anorexic model and immediately go home and throw up her lunch. But sadly that is not the world we live in.
Find me a teenage girl who has never thought that she is fat or ugly, and I will give you everything I own.
Because you will not find one. In this day and age of Photoshop, young girls are exposed to an onslaught of impossibly unrealistic ideals of beauty every time they see a magazine, watch a television commercial or walk past a billboard, bus stop, train station or basically anything that can be sold as ad space to the beauty and fashion industries.
All of these mediums feature models that have been so digitally altered that the models themselves are virtually unrecognisable. Young girls are exposed to this from an alarmingly young age – even younger if you count walking down the toy aisle in Target and seeing rows of Barbie dolls with scientifically proven unrealistic body dimensions.
Which leads to me to my next point – how is your mannequin any worse than a Barbie doll? Or how is it any worse than the digitally altered crap in magazines? For a start, the women in magazines and Barbie have faces. Your mannequin did not even have a face. It was not worth the time and effort to give it a face, yet it was worth having the attention to detail to give it protruding ribs. So we’re subliminally sending a message to impressionable young girls that it doesn’t matter if you have eyes, ears, a mouth and a nose – as long as your bones are sticking out? Oh, that’s clever.
But what really grinds my goat is the response of your CEO when questioned about the incident - “Let’s face it, clothes look better on skinny people.”
Seriously? Teenage girls have enough things to worry about, like adolescence, high school, getting their period, suddenly finding out they have three (not two) holes down there, realising overnight that they are not afraid of boy germs anymore, and learning the true (and cruel) meaning of acne. They don’t need the added pressure of making sure they’re skinny on top of all that stress.
Plus, they might have better things to do with their time than worry about whether their ribs are sticking out enough. Like - you know - go to beach, make friends, ride a bike, climb a tree, make a cubbyhouse. Any number of things that a child could be doing that doesn't involve worrying about how skinny they are.
Some people might think that this is an overreaction, but I don’t think it is. Eating disorders are not something to be taken lightly, and in a world where they are sadly on the rise, they should be treated for what they are – a serious issue and a legitimate mental health concern.
Let’s take Australia for example. The land of the happy-go-lucky, where everyone is apparently relaxed, chilled out and care-free. And you can also purchase clothing from Glassons.
- Approximately one million Australians are currently suffering from an eating disorder.
- Eating disorders count for the third most common chronic illness in young Australian females.
- Approximately 15% of Australian women experience an eating disorder at some point in their life.
- The risk factors for eating disorders include being female; being adolescent; and having body image concerns.
- People between the ages of 13 and 18 pose the highest risk of eating disorder onset.
- In 2012 the number of deaths caused by eating disorders topped the national road toll – an estimated 1,829 people died from eating disorders and 1,298 died in road accidents.
- Eating disorders cost the Australian health system approximately $99.9 million per year.
- The risk of premature death from eating disorders is six to 12 times higher than the general population.
- The estimated annual cost of eating disorders due to lost productivity from premature death due to eating disorders is $2 billion.
- In total, the social and economic cost of eating disorders in Australia is estimated at $69.7 billion per year.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t look at those figures at think this is a laughing matter. So for those who are laughing at all these “over-reactors” on their “high horses” making a big song and dance about a measly little mannequin – I pray for your sake you never have daughters. But if you do, you should probably ban them from shopping at Glassons.
Over and out.