Bigger Mannequins Launched In Venezuela and U.K.

December 6, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. mannequin [MAN-i-kin] (n.) –  an object shaped like a human figure that stores use to display clothes
Example:  The store assistant put the new sweaters on the mannequins by the window.

2. breast augmentation [brest awg-men-TEY-shuh n] (n. phrase) – a surgical procedure done to make the breasts bigger
Example: The actress denied that she underwent breast augmentation and insisted that her breasts are natural.

3. meanwhile [MEEN-hwahyl] (adv.) – at the same time
ExampleMeanwhile, sales of the new jackets increased, helping the company post a profit despite the weak sales of the pants and the dresses.

4. laud [lawd] (v.) – to give honor or approval to someone or something
Example: The activists lauded the designer who stopped using animal fur in his garments. 

5. lithe [lahyth] (adj.) – having a slim and athletic body
Example:  My sister gradually attained her lithe figure through regular dance classes and a strict vegetarian diet.


Read the text below.

Clothing retailers in Venezuela and the United Kingdom are introducing bigger mannequins in their stores.

In Venezuela, local mannequin makers launched new mannequins with bigger breasts and buttocks in an effort to boost sales. Despite the odd proportions of the mannequins, they proved to be a hit among the locals. This success may be caused by the locals’ perception that cosmetic surgeries like breast augmentation are signs of wealth.

Meanwhile, in the U.K., department store Debenhams recently started displaying size 16 mannequins in its shop in Oxford Street, London, with plans to eventually do the same at all of their 170 branches. According to company director Ed Watson, they implemented the change in hopes of helping their customers feel more comfortable about their bodies.

Many observers laud Debenhams’ decision. Most fashion labels today use size 10 mannequins even though most of their customers are not that lithe. The average British woman, for instance, is a size 16.

However, some critics believe that these bigger mannequins also represent fantasies just like mannequins in size 10. While the typical size 10 mannequins represent women’s fantasy of being tall and slim, the new size 16 mannequins represent the fantasy of inclusion, or the state of being part of a group. Critics also say that these mannequins create an illusion of a world where bigger body sizes are seen as normal and attractive.

Despite the criticisms, Debenhams hopes that by celebrating fuller body types, they are setting a good example and that other fashion retailers will follow their lead.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think that the use of plus-size mannequins by Debenhams is a good move? Why or why not?
·         Do you agree with the view of some critics that the size 16 mannequins only represent the fantasy of inclusion? Discuss with your tutor.

Discussion B

·         Why do you think the fashion industry is fixated on tall and thin body figures?
·         In your opinion, what makes one’s body beautiful? Explain to your tutor.


December 6, 2013