Nike hit the headlines last week (their London flagship store is now using plus-size and para-sport mannequins) and it’s safe to say there is controversy surrounding the use of plus-size mannequins in sportswear in particular. The idea is to “showcase inclusivity and inspire the female consumer”, but while some journalists believe it’s an inclusive step, others argue it’s “normalising obesity.”
But what does the general public think?
Golfsupport.com conducted a survey asking 1,424 British people what they think about the use of plus-size mannequins in the sportswear industry and the findings may surprise you.
Some of the findings include:
70% of Brits say Nike’s new mannequin is the first time they have seen a plus-size mannequin being used.
83% of people believe more sportswear brands should follow the example set by Nike and include plus-size mannequins in their advertising.
41% of Brits say plus-size mannequins make them feel proactive; 41% say plus-size mannequins make them feel inspired and 34% say plus-size mannequins make them feel proud.
90% of people feel more needs to be done in the sports industry to promote inclusivity and shapes of all sizes.
At the root, the survey conducted by Golf Support revealed 85% of the general public believe plus-size mannequins advertising sportswear is a good thing.
An overwhelming 80% do NOT believe plus-size mannequins glorify obesity and 82% claim seeing a plus-size mannequin in a sportswear store will make them more interested in a brand.
It’s not the first time that the idea of showing plus-size mannequins has made the news – back in 2007 there were calls from health experts to make the UK versions more “realistic” (most mannequins are reported to be a size 10, but around 5ft 10in tall, while the average height for women in the UK is 5ft 4in, and size 16.). But little seemed to change on the UK high street.
Mannequins stare vacantly out of the shop window, adorned with the latest trends as the silent figures of fashion. But they are not just vehicles for the fashion industry to showcase their creations to potential customers. They communicate more than we might think about attitudes to body image in any given era. Thinking that a few fat mannequins represent a threat to our health is not only absurd, but it also fails to acknowledge the pervasive and more sinister ideal represented by the mannequins we have considered “normal”.
In our opinion, the controversy could ultimately pay off for Nike, as the incident has helped increase awareness of the company’s plus-size offerings in an industry that often lacks options for larger women. In fact, since Nike debuted its new mannequin, searches of “Nike” and “plus-size” have grown by 387%.
Whether you are a plus size or not, you like the idea of extra large mannequins posing in a store or not, the most important thing is to look after yourself. As we get older, we get less and less active, our metabolism slows down and we usually struggle with the so-called menopause weight gain. Yes, we would like to start practising a sport but sometimes the idea of shopping for activewear put us off, mainly because we don’t find garments that fit. For anyone who is not already physically active, the idea that thinness is a prerequisite can add to anxiety around certain activities and spaces — like gyms — which some find already intimidating. This may put people off trying to exercise in the first place. The bottom line is we should fight back the hypocrisy of wanting fat people to work out, but complaining when plus sizes are advertised on the figures they’re made for.
I wonder when retailers will start to show mature mannequins in their shops?