Swedish 'real' sized mannequins go viral
Oh, how the Internetz loves to latch onto something and send it spinning across the world. This has been the case for a 29-year-old blogger named Rebecka Silvekroon, whose photo of a "fuller-figured" mannequin taken at Swedish department store, Åhléns, has gone viral.
But the truth is, this photo isn't new.
In fact, it was taken back in October 2010 and posted by the blogger with a mention of how "real" and "healthy" she thought the size 12 to 16 mannequins looked. So why all the hoo-hah? Well, according to Rebecka, a Facebook group called Women's Rights News recently discovered the photo and posted it to their wall where it has since gone viral. It has been liked by over 144,300 people, shared over 136,000 times and racked up nearly 10,000 comments, sparking further debate on the issue of healthy body image in fashion. At first it was falsely reported that H&M were behind the mannequins, but Rebecka has been quick to set the record straight that they actually belong to Åhléns.
It is encouraging to see that so many of the responses have been positive. But equally alarming to read comments from some who believe that the mannequins condone obesity. While others have been quick to write them off as a hoax.
"I'm happy that I took this picture and I love that it has gone viral. Now I hope that the debate and media buzz have caught the attention of retailers and that it might inspire them to throw some of those size 0 mannequins in the bin. Let us all keep challenging the unhealthy ideals that exist in the fashion and retail industry. I will do what I can to get companies to listen and re-think their choice," wrote Rebecka.
Of course this debate into projecting a more realistic, healthy body image to women has been going on forever. In 2007, British health officials demanded that London's high street stop using stick thin mannequins in an effort to reflect the wide range of female sizes and shapes. During this time many retailers hit back saying their models were not unrealistically thin despite being a size 10 (the average UK woman is a size 16).
Rebecka has now set up a website aptly titled Swedish Mannequins which details the story behind her viral fame, as well as photos of other mannequins of various shapes and sizes. She set up the website with the aim of "getting the attention of retailers and companies and make them use normal sized mannequins in the future". You go girl!
But back to Åhléns for a moment. I found it very reassuring to discover that they have been using these mannequins, which are manufactured by a company called Hindsgaul, in all of their stores for a couple of years now. They claim to be the only Swedish chain that does so. Let's hope others will soon follow their lead, and that this topic will continue to trend beyond social media.