If you search “realistic mannequins” on Google Images, the results are a lot of (arguably creepy) pictures of life-size clothes dummies that you may – at a glance – mistake for other shoppers in Debenhams. This isn’t because these are mannequins that actually resemble real people, but rather because they have features like eyes, noses, ears and hair that we associate with “real people”, unlike the featureless dummies that sometimes grace the shop floor. However, if you scrutinise these “realistic” mannequins for even just a second, with their evenly-spaced eyes, lack of any lumps or bumps and absence of nipples, you’ll realise they are far too perfect to be real. And do you really want to see what an outfit will look like on these unrealistic bodies, rather than on a mannequin that actual resembles you?
This week intersectional feminist lingerie brand, and gal-dem favourite, Neon Moon, have set up a mannequin that challenges the idea of buying clothes displayed on these all-too-perfect unrealistic bodies. In their first ever pop-up shop in the heart of London’s financial district, Luna the mannequin has been displayed in the window to represent a more body-positive model, with pubic hair peeking out from her pants and armpit hair next to her bra.
The aim behind this move was to encourage a conversation about body hair and beauty with onlookers. Founder Hayat Rachi says of the decision, “we aim to create a fight back in The City, as most people who work around there just expect lingerie brands to always bear the male gaze in mind – and we just won’t do that. We invite passersby to explore their level of comfort with the natural female form, as our storefront has been bombarded with people taking photos, popping in The Prince’s Trust Tomorrow shop to tell us their positive feedback and we’re keen to hear more over the month.”
Mannequins with pubic hair are not new; most notably American Apparel displayed them in 2014, in one of their New York stores. But we definitely have cause to suspect the brand’s intentions, given its history of near-pornographic model poses and at the time being under the control of former-CEO Dov Charney, who has faced a number of charges of sexual harassment and misconduct. Neon Moon, however, is a brand with an all-encompassing feminist ethos that we can definitely trust to have the right aim of empowerment behind this act.
As Rachi puts it, “Women actually do have hair sprouting from their bodies, and we don’t care if the truth pisses people off. It’s as if people are so socially conditioned to think women are hairless, and we’re like no darling, without shaving we’re not. Neon Moon constantly celebrates natural beauty and are proud to reflect what women’s bodies really look like. Women should not have to question why they look a certain way or feel that they have to conform to society’s pressures. It’s important for women to not compare themselves to unachievable standards of ‘beauty’. Rather, they need to reclaim the right to their bodies and decide how it should look for them and not for others, and that’s what our mannequin Luna is doing.”
This is just the beginning with only one mannequin on display, so we hope to see more and more body-positive mannequins popping up on the high street that celebrate a wide range of body-types, body hair and so-called “imperfections” that real people have!