London, May 3 (PTI) Mannequins used to advertise female fashion may be promoting unrealistic body ideals as their average size represents severely underweight women, according to UK scientists.
The research from University of Liverpool surveyed fashion retailers located on the high street of two cities in the UK.
The body size of ‘male’ and ‘female’ mannequins was assessed by two research assistants using visual rating scales.
The study, published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, found that the average female mannequin body size was representative of a severely underweight woman.
The average male mannequin body size was significantly larger than the average female mannequin body size and only a small proportion of male mannequins represented an underweight body size.
“We became interested in this topic after seeing some news report about members of the general public noticing that some mannequins in fashion stores were disturbingly thin,” said Eric Robinson from the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society.
“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,” said Robinson.
“Our survey of these two high streets in the UK produced consistent results; the body size of female mannequins represented that of extremely underweight human women,” he said.
“Because ultra-thin ideals encourage the development of body image problems in young people, we need to change the environment to reduce emphasis on the value of extreme thinness,” he added.
Although altering the size of high street fashion mannequins may not ‘solve’ body image problems, presentation of ultra-thin female bodies is likely to reinforce inappropriate and unobtainable body ideals, researchers said.
“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 ideal may be of particular benefit to children, adolescents and young adult females,” Robinson said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.