That unlikely silhouette

Sisley anorexic looking mannequinThis mannequin caught my eye last week, but not for any of the reasons that the fashion brand Sisley would have wanted. There was something very strange about it: those black leggings for starters seemed oddly inappropriate in the mid-August heat of Sorrento, Italy, where the very lightest of loose cottons are de rigeure. Still, we are accustomed to fashion being out of sync with the seasons, so it surely wasn’t that that made me stop and stare. Was it the rest of the outfit then? But no, no strong or controversial fashion statement being made there.

What really shocked me were the silhouettes of those legs, accented against the light floor and furnishings of the interior. They were so thin, so painfully thin, certainly much thinner than any I have ever seen before.

A great deal has been said and written in just the last few weeks about the use of anorexic looking mannequins, and what this says to impressionable teenagers in particular. In the UK in July this year, Primark were caught using mannequins with protruding ribs and after public pressure via Twitter they agreed to change their display. La Perla faced similar negative press earlier this year in New York. So why do we still see a major brand like Sisley using mannequins like these? How do we prevent the international fashion industry using such wholly inappropriate images of women?

I have to express my interest in this issue. A member of my close family is recovering from anorexia and I know it to be an ugly and frightening illness. There is much that is wrong in the world, but I think we do our children a great disservice if we do not stand up and say that this is unacceptable and that we want it changed.

Do you agree?

You can find more posts submitted to WordPress’ weekly photo challenge on the theme of Silhouettes here.

Beat provides helplines, online support and a network of UK-wide self-help groups to help adults and young people in the UK beat their eating disorders.



  1. You make lots of important points. The fashion industry’s promulgation of ‘thinness’ is not only tasteless, but pernicious. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    1. Thank you for commenting Tish. It bothers me more and more that they say all the right things and then this sort of thing happens.

    1. Thank you! I do wish I had more of a voice though…

  2. I agree with you totally, also about fashion houses saying the right things but then sending out all the wrong subliminal messages. I’m sorry you have someone recovering from that horrid illness, and hope they are well on the way to being better. I have been reading your posts with interest, as I too have an ‘adopted’ son, altho in our case it’s a bit more complicated – the simplest way to put it is that we have permanently fostered him. He is 25 now and has just returned from 6 years in Australia and New Zealand where he initially went to meet some of his birth family. It is lovely to have him home, and to know that we really are home, but reading your posts took me back to the very difficult times when he first came to us at the age of 7. He too had had a very uncertain life with unreliable adults and it was a very long, slow birth for all of us, but worth all the pangs.

    1. I am so pleased to hear from you. My niece is recovering but it will be a long time before we will be able to say that she has recovered I think. She is more vulnerable for being at school with exams etc always there looming, but she is certainly much weller than she was a couple of years ago when she was very unwell. It is, as you say, a horrid illness, but she has people all around her who care very much, and she continues to receive very good professional help. So she is going in the right direction. Thank you for your concern.
      Well, six years with your son abroad, that must have been very difficult. I can’t even begin to imagine how I might feel about that, however supportive we are of our children’s need to connect with their past. I am glad that he has returned to you. J is at the stage now where he wants to know more about his birth family but is not ready to have any face to face contact. That may change of course…. I feel as if I never know what might happen tomorrow, and that I probably have a lifetime of this. That is some of what differentiates us from ‘regular’ parents….
      But it is good, and the challenges are outweighed by the good times. Thank you for being in touch. Most of the adoptive parents I see here are parents of young children and it is good to hear from a parent like you who knows what happens when they get older. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

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