By: Ron Maier

Mannequins are usually designed as a subtle representation of the perfect body type. Because they do not speak or move, people do not realize the impact mannequins have on perceptions of body image. Many mannequins are as much as six inches taller than the average American and over six sizes smaller in the waist. Their image is a somewhat modified replication of runway models, though they are much more extreme in proportion.

Though many mannequins throughout the last several decades are molded with this kind of "high fashion" appeal, there have always been adjustments depending on current trends. In the 70's and 80's the miniskirt trend caused mannequin legs to be extremely slender, while in the past decade mannequin legs are cast with quite a bit of tone and muscle, due to more recent fitness trends. The most recent development in the American population versus fashion is the fact that Americans are steadily growing bigger, both in height and width, while most "high fashion" remains extremely slender. This is not stopping the retail industry from accommodating these changes and diversifying its efforts in the modern market.

In the last forty years, the average weight of American citizens increased by twenty-five pounds, shifting from an average size 4 in females to an average size 6. Americans are steadily getting larger. As this increase in size filters into the celebrity scene, larger sizes are slowly becoming more acceptable. For example, celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Byonce have established a great appreciation for fuller figured women in the entertainment industry. Though this has not completely transferred to fashion runways, many stores are beginning to stock and display accordingly, and as a result, slightly thicker mannequins are being manufactured.

There has even been a size 8 mannequin produced. Breast implants are becoming extremely wide spread in the American female population, causing the rise of mannequins that resemble such figures. These mannequins keep the same slender proportions as before but are two or even three sizes larger in cup size. Mannequins can be seen today with naval rings, tattoos, maternity shapes, breast implants, and even 20 or 30 extra pounds, making this a very diverse period for retail clothing and store fixtures.

There are a variety of fashion trends that retailers must consider when deciding on mannequin forms. The world of high fashion is no longer the industry leader in body, style, and accessory trends. Instead, people are diversifying to the point that mannequins and clothing are becoming much more demographically specific, forcing mannequin providers to diversify their efforts in designing accurate clothing fixtures for a variety of clientele.

About the Author:

Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online provider of mannequins,gridwall accessories, slatwalls, and mannequin forms. S & L is also a valuable resource for many categories of store fixtures and retail store displays. For more information, please visit

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