Sizing up the situation…
Social media is great for brand shaming. Harsh but sometimes necessary, this week it was Topshop’s turn. A quintessential favourite of the young female shopper, Topshop treads hallowed ground when it comes to High Street fashion and its clothes, and associated style icons like Kate Moss, are revered by many.
Not so this week. It fell from its designer perch with a loud clatter thanks to a twenty something shopper from Stroud, Laura Berry, whose objections to the chain’s use of an unnaturally tall and ridiculously skinny mannequin have now gone viral.
Laura posted a complaint about the mannequin’s unfeasible proportions on Topshop’s Facebook page along with a photo of the offending model – a complaint that was reposted by hundreds and spread around the internet.
Job done. A chastened Topshop has agreed to stop placing orders for this style of mannequin explaining that its proportions had been altered to increase its visual impact. An explanation which probably doesn’t sit well with any parent of a pre-teen or teenage girl, who knows too well the effect that such images have on their daughters.
Body image is a key issue for young girls (and an increasing number of young boys) and brands like Topshop need to develop a sense of duty to this hugely profitable customer base. They need to care about what these unrealistic body images say to young people and the potential repercussions that come from putting them out there and own the responsibility that being at the helm of a young, attractive brand entails.
Thankfully, social media is a great leveler. One sane word from one customer promptly spreads to the masses and that customer base has suddenly got a real voice that has to be heard.
We live in a progressive society where most of us are fortunate enough to be able to access an education and can make our own choices. Despite this, a growing percentage of the population has an issue with their bodies with conditions ranging from obesity to anorexia constantly on the increase.
The key message has to be one of health and it is society’s shared responsibility. Healthy body, healthy mind etc. To drive this home, we need the big names to use healthy looking models, of good proportion, on the catwalks and in magazines.
Any other High Street chains who are offending with their mannequins, you know who you are ! Follow Topshop’s lead and do away with your emaciated dummies. Don’t leave it to your customers to force your hand on this one.