Certainly, no one expects the mannequins at high-end lingerie purveyor La Perla to be anything less than thin and perfect. But when they used a mannequin with exposed ribs, that was a step too far for too many. Customers began calling out the mannequin with the hashtag #NotBuyingIt (it looks like the hashtag has been co-opted by a bunch of other things as well) and the brand was pressed to respond.
The anger over the mannequin, which critics blame for furthering the unrealistic and downright harmful body images that are pushed upon women, spilled over onto many of the Twitter feeds of the magazines and fashion blogs that are oftentimes blamed for this very same issue. So are we on the path to seeing a little more body diversity across fashion media? Hmm… we’ll have to see about that.
But as for La Perla, the company was quick to respond by removing the mannequin and issuing a statement that reads in part:
We are in the process of redesigning all La Perla stores with a new concept image and the mannequins that are currently displayed in our US stores will no longer be used.
Good work La Perla. It still begs the question why the company thought this mannequin would go over well with customers, but the fast turnaround is a positive.
Separately but related, this isn’t the first time in the last week that exposed ribs have been an issue.
Erin Wasson, a real live person who also models various garments, posted a photo of herself topless (from the back) on Instagram in which her ribs can clearly be seen and people went off about that as well. Some suggested she eat a burger (there’s actually a recent picture of her chowing down on what looks like a pretty meaty sandwich) and others just said she’s too skinny/skeletal.
No one should starve to fit in to some warped idea of beauty, but we have to be careful as well that the pendulum doesn’t swing in the other direction. Some people really are just very thin without even trying. We need to embrace different shapes, thin ones as well. It’s also because of the way she’s posing that Wasson looks so skinny. Other photos on her feed look that of any other model.
Which brings us to the last point. There isn’t a problem with models (live or plastic) being thin. They have always been thin and probably always will be. But brands have to be careful that they don’t cross the fine line between thin and scary. There is a point where it’s going to strike the wrong chord with customers, and rightfully so. In a post-Dove Real Women world, the public is more aware of body image issues and more inclined to kick up a stink if what’s projected isn’t positive.