“Disabled” Mannequins Challenge Concept of Beauty

By | 2017-01-13T20:42:48+00:00 December 5th, 2013|
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Have you seen this video yet? It’s part of the “Because Who is Perfect? Get Closer.” campaign by Pro Infirmis in honor of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which was Dec. 3.

The idea that there can be a perfect body comes to us from ancient Greece, where the athletic young male form was among the first to be sculpted and held up as the model of perfect beauty. And ever since then Western Civilization, especially, has had a very specific idea of which bodies are beautiful and which fall short. This has carried through even to the mannequins we’ve created to model our clothes for us.

Unfortunately, these mannequins are often far off from what most human bodies really look like and even promote unhealthy lifestyles. Back in 2007, some mannequins in London were so stick-thin that British health officials demanded High Street to stop using them. And most of us still remember when GAP came under fire for using mannequins with stick-thin legs to model its “always skinny” jeans.

A few years ago the Swedish department store chain Ahlens put up mannequins modeling the typical female body — soft stomach, curvy hips — but no other major department stores are coming forth to embrace these models.

So what Pro Infirmis, a Swiss advocacy group, has done is remarkable. In a world that shies away from depictions of even what most human bodies look like, these disabled mannequins draw the eye to various forms of bodies with disabilities and show how beautiful they can be. And the project is resonating across the Web, where it will remain accessible to everyone with an Internet connection. HuffPo, AdWeek, Jezebel, BuzzFeed and more have all covered the story of this video, and are getting the word out that beauty takes many shapes, and perhaps is limited only by the eye of the beholder.

Man with his mannequin