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July 1, 2014 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Retail Therapy: What Mannequins Say About Us
Like the larger fashion industry, mannequin design echoes seasonal styles that come and go, both in regard to technological improvements and the way we view our bodies. “It’s often the body attitudes and facial expressions that reflect what’s going on socially,” says Hale. Accordingly, the stiff, unnatural bodies of early mannequins were well-matched for the Victorian Era‘s restrictive ideas about women’s rights and fashions, which dictated they wear many layers of heavy fabric over tight-fitting corsets.

Smithsonian Magazine traces the history of Mannequins, starting with King Tut’s Tomb
The obvious reason, says Southgate, is that people are conditioned to seeing glamorous and made-up women, while for men those things are taboo. Mannequins by their very nature tend to look too pretty, too perfect, and attaining a truly masculine edge is difficult. “Even when you do get a male mannequin with the right look,” says Southgate, “you’ve got to reassure the male customer with tweeds and natural wood and nice masculine elements all around the display.”
The story about the Swedish mannequins
In October 2010 Swedish project manager and blogger Rebecka Silvekroon took a photo of a “fuller-figured” mannequin at a Swedish department store and posted it on her blog Becka.nu. It was posted along with a positive note of how “real” and healthy it looked. Nothing much happened at that point. But in the middle of March 2013 it started to spread in social media. And it spread fast! After just a couple of days the photo had been liked more than 1 million times in total on Facebook!
The Politics of Mannequins, Part I ~ Part II ~ Part III - Mannequins in Art
Essays by Tove Hermanson for Thread For Thought
Mannequins & Body Image
A collection of articles on how mannequins impact the the body image of women and minorities, and the psychological impact of mannequins.
The Twilight Zone - "After Hours"
Mannequin trailer
posted by Room 641-A (14 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

SLYT Body Image in Venezuela. There an associated article on the Mannequin Madness blog here
posted by Stu-Pendous at 8:36 PM on July 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

Nice of you to mention Mannequin the Movie, but what about Mannequin 2: On the Move? (for which one of the best Hollywood Bloggers, Ken 'the other' Levine, got a co-writing credit).

It must be noted sadly that "Mannequin" co-star Meshach Taylor passed away last week.


You may now return to your original post topic.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:52 PM on July 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

Not that i disagree with what's being said, and it is interesting and this is a good post, but there needs to be some sort of Betteridge's Law for headlines that do the whole "What X says about us" thing. Because it's actually an exception to the rule when it actually does say what the person is positing it does. This is actually i think, the first time this year that it has at least that i've seen.
posted by emptythought at 9:52 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought the exaggerated Latin American mannequins were the subject of an FPP a while back, but I'm not finding it. I've always found mannequins kind of creepy, but otherwise just a background part of shopping. There's a lot here to ponder, but it's not making me like the mannequins any more.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:30 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was working in the advertising/marketing department of a regional department store chain back in the early 80's, right around the time a huge revolution was rumbling through the mannequin-using industry...nipples on the female mannequins. It was a topic of very serious, sometimes heated, conversation, especially among the older employees.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:01 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dip Flash, I thought so too... Couldn't find it either.
posted by Stu-Pendous at 5:41 AM on July 2, 2014

I thought the exaggerated Latin American mannequins were the subject of an FPP a while back, but I'm not finding it.

It's in this this earlier post on mannequins: Mannequins and the peculiar morgue between Paris and Rome.
posted by Stoatfarm at 6:39 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oddly enough I worked out my own obsessions with mannequins here in a mannequin soap opera called STIFF:

posted by blairfell at 7:41 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wow, lots of great links! I've done a lot of reading on the subject, but I liked that the first article linked to current manufacturers. And the L. Frank Baum connection is wild! The Emerald City was a masterpiece of merchandising display, so it makes sense he'd be hip to the principles involved.

I;ve been a mannequin fan (fannequin?) all my life; Mom could just park me in front of them in a department store when I was little, and know I wasn't going to wander off anywhere because I'd be too busy studying every little detail.

I used to have two of them, a teen and a child figure that a friend who worked at a Sears warehouse got for me when they were cleaning out an old storeroom. They were supposed to be thrown away, but I doubt many mannequins ever actually make it to the trash if they can possible be sneaked out into the hands of collectors! Alas, I had to store them in a relative's decrepit old barn when I had to quickly downsize into a small apartment, and they fell apart from weather damage. I still have some of their wigs and clothes - I would dress them to decorate for the seasons and holidays. The teen had spread-apart fingers that kept breaking off; I should have ought stock in the Crazy Glue company Eventually two got lost, so I always kept some kind of accessory over her left hand.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:26 AM on July 2, 2014

Wait, you can buy a mannequin as a non-retail person? Is that possible? My toddler is obsessed with shop mannequins and keeps trying to either dismember or cuddle them. How does one buy one - you just make friends with a window dresser and hope?
posted by viggorlijah at 9:03 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

And now I have her creepy Christmas present sorted out. Thank you, I think.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:09 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

"It must be noted sadly that "Mannequin" co-star Meshach Taylor passed away last week." - oneswellfoop

So sad. He played my fav character on 'Designing Women.'
posted by Gadgetenvy at 10:40 AM on July 2, 2014

I also had a set of hosiery legs from a JC Penney closing-down sale; I was always going to make an end table out of them but never got around to it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:55 AM on July 3, 2014

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