Target, shopping, body confidence, health, exercise, shapes and sizes

In a move designed to cater for the diverse female body types of Australia, Target has announced the introduction of size 16 mannequins. They were released on Thursday, September 10 in Target’s Chadstone store, and will be placed in over 49 stores nationwide. These ‘normal’ sized dolls are an attempt to acknowledge that many women other than sizes 6-8 buy clothes, and give larger ladies a sense of body confidence not previously afforded to them.

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Sounds great! What could be better than encouraging women to be proud of their bodies, whatever the shape or size?

I’ll tell you what’s better; encouraging women to eat healthily, exercise more, and not be complacent about a body that’s beyond the bounds of a healthy BMI.

I am all for average sized mannequins. If you looked up the definition of “average female body type” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of me. My shirt/dress size is a 10, my pants size is a 12, and I am 5 foot 5 and a half. However; I go to the gym regularly, I avoid sugary food, I don’t drink, and I watch my portion sizes. Why do I do this? Aside from the fact that I really, really like Zumba, I would LOVE to fit into clothes that are size 8-10, rather than 10-12.

This isn’t because I have some terrible body complex; on the contrary, I am really happy with how I look. But I know that if I kicked a couple of kilos, I would be more comfortable in more clothes, and have less trouble shopping for them. That’s it. Simple. Tiny mannequins don’t make me anxious; I will never be a size 6 as I don’t have the bone structure. However, they do motivate me to get fitter and healthier than I already am. Surely this is a good thing?

Let’s look at what Target Australia’s Managing Director, Stuart Machin, had to say. “The average customer is a size 14, so it’s baffling that the Australian retail industry still uses a standard size 8 mannequin…We want to change the way Australian retailers represent women, and we hope that these mannequins will help to start a new conversation in the fashion industry. We know how important it is to be accessible for real Australians. We’ve always tried to cater for all sizes – from introducing our petites line with our Dannii for Target range right through to the Belle Curves collection that caters for women up to size 26.”

Whoa! Back up a bit! Firstly; if the average customer is a 14, then why not have size 14 mannequins? That is usually a perfectly healthy size. I know my booty expands to a 14 around Christmas, and I’m the poster-girl for average. Secondly; what does Mr. Machin mean by “real” and “everyday” women? Last time I checked, women were trying to move past being defined by their body type. It should have nothing to do with what makes us ‘real’. Reverse body shaming, anyone?

Here’s the thing; size 16 – 26 is not a ‘body type’. I know many women who are this size and are perfectly happy, but they would be much, MUCH happier if they dropped a few pounds. Yes, some women have medical conditions/chronic injuries that unfortunately effect their fitness, but most do not. There is a temptation to get wound up in the ‘love your body’ movement, but it should not be an excuse to maintain a less than healthy lifestyle.

Love your body by keeping it as fit and healthy as you can. Size 16 mannequins may give women a better shopping experience, but they do not give us incentive to avoid the obesity crisis. True body confidence comes with a healthy lifestyle and a healthy mind. Remember; the two are not mutually exclusive.