We’re now heavier than ever before, but are size 16 mannequins the way forward? n 1951, the average British woman weighed 10 stone, had a slimline 27-inch waist and wore a size 10. Fast forward to 2014 and she’s now a stone heavier, her waistline has increased by seven inches, and 45 per cent of the female population wear a size 16 or over. It’s only logical, then, that we should see more representations of tuller figures in high street clothing stores. people feel that being overweight is acceptable, say medics, it becomes less of a cause for concern, yet the health risks remain, “Being overweight can dramatically increase someone’s Yet when retailer Debenhams announced plans to make size 16 mannequins a permanent fixture throughout its 170 UK stores, the response from consumers and commentators was mixed.
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Debenhams’ director Ed Watson claimed the move would help women ‘feel more comfortable about their bodies’. Equalities minister Jo Swinson, meanwhile, felt it would help challenge our ‘looks-obsessed culture’, and financial analysts were quick to point out the move is likely driven by recent research that shows women are three times more likely to buy clothes when the models wearing them are their own size. I think the introduction of bigger mannequins makes good sense,’ says size-16 Holly Sutton, 29, from Sunderland. ‘As a woman who loves fashion, I want to see that the clothes I buy will look good on my curvier figure, And using more realisticsized dummies shows you don’t have to be a size 10 to look great.’
On the surface then, it seems a positive move. But there’s another side to the story. Health experts are concerned that, given the UK’s current obesity crisis, promoting a size 16 as ‘normal’ might glamorise ‘curvy1 bodies to the detriment of our health. If ‘Labelling people by their dress size is not helpful’ likelihood of developing cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes,’ says Bupa Health Clinic’s assistant medical director, Dr Peter Mace. That said, being a larger dress size doesn’t necessarily indicate you’re unfit or in poor health, says women’s wellness expert Jackie Diss (jackiediss.co.uk). I’ve seen plenty of curvy-yet-fit women run circles around skinnier girls in training. And, while I agree that maintaining a healthy weight is important for good health, labelling people by their dress size or saying they’re overweight, fat or obese is not helpful in encouraging them to lose weight.’ While some people believe the use of size 16 mannequins could mislead the nation into thinking size 16 is a healthy weight, without taking into account, height for example, Diss believes it could have more psychological benefits in the long term.
‘If women can feel more gorgeous, more accepted and happier in themselves, they’re far more likely to get active and make positive changes so that weight loss might actually occur,’ says Diss. ‘Feeling great in clothes can bring you one step closer to feeling fabulous, and if you’re in a good place, you’re more likely to get out there and enjoy life, rather than sit on the sofa all evening watching TV and reaching for the biscuit tin.
Love the skin you’re in Try Diss’s tips to boost your confidence and get healthy, whatever your size. Don’t hate your body because you’ve not reached your target weight. Loving yourself is the only way to increase your confidence – so accept your body now, and embrace all the changes that occur along the way. Don’t worry about getting skinny – concentrate on being healthy! Be realistic about what you can achieve with the body you have, and focus on all the positive parts, rather than the not-so-great ones. Losing weight can feel like climbing a mountain. Break your weight-loss journey into smaller steps so your goal doesn’t seem so far away. Recognise each miniachievement, celebrate it, then move on to the next one.
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