Are size 16 mannequins making obesity more acceptable?

Published Tuesday, Aug 19 2014, 00:01 BST  |  By  |  13 comments
Fat Families presenter Steve Miller says that retailers like Debenhams are making it more normal to be big and we should shame the overweight into slimming down. But is this right?

Are size 16 mannequins making obesity more acceptable?

© Rex Features / Grant Robinson / Mood Board

Are size 16 mannequins making obesity normal?

Yes says Steve Miller, weight-loss expert

"Size 16 mannequins say that being fat is perfectly fine, which, in my opinion, is extremely dangerous. Being overweight isn't – and never will be – OK.

Are size 16 mannequins making obesity more acceptable?

© PR shot

The fact that high street retailers are trying to act as if it's something natural is ridiculous. We should be helping overweight people shed their excess pounds, not creating fat mannequins. All they do is encourage people to stay chubby.

Many overweight women have extremely low self-esteem. Plus-size mannequins simply put out the message: stay fat, stay miserable, you'll always be obese anyway. They're cruel and insensitive and will do nothing but inflate obesity figures.

Instead, we should be on the side of overweight people and motivate them to take control. If you care, you have to be straight with people. You have to tell them they're too big and then inspire them. Nobody is going to look at a size 16 mannequin and want to look like it, so who is benefiting?

And it's not just about appearance. Being overweight is linked to so many health problems – diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure. Do retailers realise this or have they got their heads buried in the sand? Size 16 mannequins will normalise obesity, so does that mean an early death is normal? That's often what obesity leads to.

Even calling it a 'plus-size mannequin' is sugar-coating it. It's a fat mannequin. As a nation, we're putting out the message that obesity and poor health are OK. And that's something I will never agree with."

No, says Gemma Collins, reality TV star

"It's a great thing that Debenhams use size 16 mannequins. Yes, we should all try and eat well and exercise regularly, but being a size 16 doesn't mean you're unhealthy. Look at me – I'm a size 18 and I have an active lifestyle. I go to the gym three times a week and regular check-ups show I don't have high blood pressure. But I'm never going to be stick-thin.

Are size 16 mannequins making obesity more acceptable?

© PR shot

Just because someone has a few extra curves, it doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to buy nice clothes. That's why I set up my clothing range, The Gemma Collins Collection, and why it's so popular. The website is really busy and we're having to open a second shop because the first one isn't big enough.

I have customers who travel two or three hours to buy my clothes because they want to feel liberated and look lovely. And I get tons of letters from women thanking me for providing a plus-size range.

And does being a size 16 even mean you are obese? Size 16 clothes are my biggest sellers because that's the size of the average British woman. So why shouldn't they see what the clothes look like on a mannequin the same size as them? It's hardly like they're using size 32 mannequins, is it?

So, while Steve Miller is entitled to his opinion, it's not a very positive one – I think his comments are pretty outrageous. All I can say is: 'Shuuut up!'"

Are size 16 mannequins making obesity more acceptable?
YES - I agree with Steve29.81%
NO - I agree with Gemma70.19%