Is this man right? Or is he harming our self esteem?

Big Fat Family Diet

Last month, weight loss expert Steve Miller blasted retailers who use Size 16 mannequins, saying they are ‘normalising’ obesity and making women feel that it is ‘okay to be fat’. Looks pretty smug, doesn’t he?

The first thing to say here is that size 16 is not necessarily ‘fat’ or ‘obese’. It’s just bigger than the standard size mannequins. It looks genuine and realistic for much of the female population. Retailers have finally cottoned on to the fact that women are more likely to buy things when they see them on a figure which mirrors that of their own, rather than suffering the confusion and disappointment of picking an outfit which looks great on a stick-thin model but simply does not fit or suit their body shape.

Miller believes that by ‘pandering’ to society and bringing in larger mannequins, we are dismissing the massive health risks that come with obesity, such as heart problems, joint issues and lymphedema. I respect this man’s opinion as I would anyone else, however he does concern me when he says that ‘every size 16 woman’ he has worked with ‘is fat’. That’s a massive generalisation; one he is extending to the entire population.

In contrast to Miller, most women have said they find it refreshing to see ‘real sized’ mannequins in stores. After all, the standard size shop dummies really are incredibly thin and don’t represent the true proportions of even the most slim women. Whilst I see his point, and abhor the normalisation of being overweight just as I do the pressure to be underweight, I can’t help but think this is a step in the right direction, even if it is ‘too far’.  I honestly feel that some store mannequins pose an unhealthy image for women young and old, with protruding limbs, washboard stomachs and impossibly tiny waists. These dummies don’t encourage people to ‘stay fat’ – they are not rotund with multiple rolls of fat and cellulite-covered legs. They are a far cry from representing obese. Furthermore, many women in this country are under pressure to lose weight, and many would like to; they just don’t have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Perhaps he should focus on sharing his advice with a nation whose self esteem is in crisis, rather than making cruel jibes about women who are unlikely to be in the ‘obese’ bracket at all.

Whilst I most definitely don’t condone anyone who says that being overweight is okay (obviously for health reasons it really is dangerous and something should be done to tackle obesity in this country), I think there’s a bigger issue here about the way retailers make women (their customers) feel. When I was 12 I was a size 14-16 and after spending a disheartening 40 minutes trying on jeans which were way too small for me in the changing rooms, I would walk out and be faced with clothes displayed on mannequins which emulated the body that I wanted. Except I will never look like that, I will never be that thin – not many women have 16 inch waists. Nor would I want to look like that now. But as a vulnerable, impressionable young girl who was being bullied for being fat, those mannequins represented a goal for me and that, in my opinion, is much more dangerous than a size 16 mannequin encouraging someone to be ‘fat’. What are your opinions on this?

mannequin normal sized mannequin



There is no such thing as failure…



‘You’ve only failed when you cease trying’

Recently, I embarked upon a course to become a legal secretary. I did so with much conviction – once I decide to do something, I’m wholly invested and determined to see it through. However a few weeks in, after knuckling down religiously for several hours every Saturday, I realised (epiphany-style) that it wasn’t for me. Not only was it irrelevant to my current job and career (I’m a PA and Marketing Manager), I was stuffing it into my week desperately between working full time, my family, my boyfriend, social life, other commitments and the gym. Plus writing, of course. I’d bitten off way more than I could chew; and whilst I felt stupid for taking the bull by the horns and making the initial decision with such misguided vigour, I also felt as though I had given up easily. I’d failed. Despite knowing absolutely that this was not the right thing for me, and dreading  continuing the course, I felt stupid for having embarked on it so enthusiastically only to find that I was mistaken.

On the phone to the course administrator, unprompted she told me: ‘Don’t feel like you’ve failed. It’s a hard course, you can always come back to it. Draw a line in the sand, keep moving forward and don’t look back.’ Intuitively, she knew how I was feeling and her advice made me realise that by following my heart, I had definitely made the right decision. As soon as I came off the phone, I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.

I’d gone into the course wholeheartedly with the best intentions, and ultimately failed to complete it. Yet in realising it wasn’t for me, I succeeded. I now have more time to write and take care of the blog, my weekends are mine again to relax and spend time with my loved ones. Taking the wrong path made me realise exactly what I want to do and am truly good at – and that is to write.

I believe everything happens for a reason – and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Next time you’re feeling low or as if you have failed because something didn’t worked out as you had hoped or wished it to; don’t worry. It’s probably a blessing in disguise, guiding you back onto your chosen path!