Mannequins with Disabilities

Mannequins are created in the prefect image of human body, even the bigger set mannequins. Rarely do mannequins portray individuals with disabilities, and why not?

People With Disabilities React to Mannequins Created in Their Image is a youtube video released yesterday of how an mannequin designer costumed made mannequins to look like individuals with disabilities. I would like to share my positive reaction to the  video.

The video is moving as you see the individuals examine, touch, and feel the mannequins created in their likeness. The designer paid closed attention to the individuals and did not fix the imperfections.   The individuals examine the parts of the mannequins that visually represent the imperfect parts of their bodies – amputee, scoliosis, wheelchair bound, bad limps, etc. The video even captures the individual with the amputee put his prosthetic on the mannequin made in his likeness. It is a moving testimony of how individuals view themselves and how the mannequins change the views.

As a marketer and an individual with Cerebral Palsy who uses an electric wheelchair most of the time, I see three positive outcomes to wide use of mannequins with disabilities.

  1. Clothing designers will be forced to create clothes for individuals with disabilities, which look and lay nicely. For individuals who have scoliosis, have  bad limps, and are wheelchair bound, shopping for clothes can be a challenge, because clothes are designed for individuals without any imperfections and they do not always lay right on individuals with imperfections. I remember shopping for a formal dress last spring, and my mom making the comment in the fitting room, “The dress  would look nice on you if you were standing.” Of course, standing is not a solution for me, and the requirement to stand helped us to weed out dresses. I ended up having to wear my formal Christmas dress for the cruise. Mannequins with disabilities will help individuals with disabilities to see what clothes will  look nice on them without having to try  everything on.
  2. Sales within disabled sector will go up because of the direct marketing. Everyone likes special attention directed at them.
  3. Mannequins with disabilities can help raise individuals’ self esteem who have disabilities. We have a right to be counted and put in the public light. We have the right to look nice, professional, and comfortable. We have the right to  define our own personal style.
  4. Mannequins with disabilities will raise awareness about different disabilities and how individuals with disabilities lead “normal” lives. Yes, we like to look nice (even sexy) for our significant others and spouses. Yes, we need business three pieces suits and business causal clothes for our careers. Yes, we need clothes to go out with our friends on the weekend. Yes, we go skiing, biking, swimming, etc on a regular basis. And we will not apologize if it makes you uncomfortable. That is your problem. Perhaps the mannequins with disabilities will help to overcome negative stereotypes about individuals with disabilities.

Like anything else, the mannequins with disabilities could have negative outcomes. Individuals without disabilities maybe turned off by the mannequins with disabilities and their clothes, because they may perceive the clothes being  for individuals with disabilities. On the other hand, individuals with disabilities may feel like they are being put on display. Store managers should have various mannequins in each grouping to counteract these perceptions.

I would like to hear your reactions. What are your thoughts?

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