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Does Whistles’ apology for its thin mannequin go far enough?

Did nobody learn anything from the Topshop mannequin storm last year? Another high street store has caused outrage this week after shopper Amina Hays took a picture of one of its shop mannequins.

She posted it to her Instagram page, with the caption: “Because having a mannequin specifically made with a protruding breast bone will definitely solve women’s body issues.”

Unlike Topshop, who took forever to respond to the image of an extremely thin mannequin shared by student Becky Leigh Hopper on her Twitter account last October, Whistles were quick to apologise: 

“We are sorry for any unintentional offence caused by this mannequin. Our mannequins are supplied by a company which has been working with leading retailers for over 30 years. The headless mannequins are a stylised tool for visual merchandising and standing at 177cm tall are not a direct representation of the average female form. It is made from elongated solid fibreglass in order for clothing to be carefully slipped on and off. However, we do take customer feedback very seriously and will be removing this style mannequin from shop windows.”

More: Is thin-shaming just as bad as fat-shaming?

Of course, the people of Twitter won’t leave it there and they may have a point. In response to Whistles’ statement, users pointed out that the issue wasn’t with the mannequins being 177 centimetres tall and suggested that a concave chest and jutting collarbones might actually make it more difficult to remove clothes.

“I can’t wait to see what you replace the hungry alien with,” one Twitter user remarked, while others pointed out that the statement didn’t take responsibility for promoting a “starved body image”.

However some people were more willing to accept the apology and move on. “I am skinny so I see nothing wrong with it,” tweeted Shelby Hurly. “Just put a curvier one by it to represent all sizes.”

More: Thin-shaming this model won’t cure her “eating disorder”

We couldn’t agree more. Nobody should be made to feel ashamed of their body, whether they are carrying excess weight or have protruding collarbones. How about our high street stores represent a range of body types with their mannequins? Can we live with the concave chest and tiny arms if it’s next to bountiful breasts and a curvy belly? Wouldn’t that truly represent all women?

Perhaps we’d be more willing to accept Whistles’ apology if it came with a commitment to represent real women — insofar as every woman is a “real” woman whatever shape and size she is — in their stores.

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