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Does This Display Want You to Be Skinny?

About Face is a fantastic organization for girls — and anyone else, for that matter. The San Francisco-based nonprofit works to help young women rise above media messages (advertisements, music videos, magazine spreads) that perpetuate an overly thin, unattainably "perfect" ideal. Unfortunately, they have their work cut out for them, as there aren't too many media sources that promote a more true-to-life vision of womanhood.

About Face has its own blog, and one recent post takes Macy's to task for a denim display that features skinny jeans. The writer says:

I have become accustomed to the waif-thin mannequins sporting bodies that the majority of human beings cannot attain without the help of anorexia. But to focus [the] display on the word “skinny” is taking the assault on women’s image to a new level. . . . I know, I get it: Skinny jeans, hence the S-K-I-N-N-Y. I get it. But with the addition of the word “skinny” to the size 2 mannequins, they are communicating to the “non-skinnies” that these pants are not for them. Mainstream advertising is once again reminding the world that to be skinny is glamorous and should be what everyone strives for.

The writer goes on to say that she'd rather "have the body of a woman, not that of a pre-pubescent boy." While I see what she's saying, I don't look at this display and think, "Ah, the fat-hating patriarchy is at it again." Instead, I'm amazed that the skinny-jean silhouette is still around, given its ability to make almost everyone look like a bizarre carrot-sausage hybrid of denim disaster. I'm curious about your thoughts on this display. Do you think it sends a message about skinny bodies along with clothes, or is it just trying to sell us some questionably flattering jeans?


Join The Conversation
Dorita-Pretty Dorita-Pretty 8 years
Speaking of skinny...not that we need to be but if we want to drop just a few and fast, I just got a newsletter about a weight loss tonic, it is doctor approved. It was sent to me from Louisa the lady I wrote about on the beauty blog, I found her on the DOCTOR'sTV show. You can look at it by going to her site, hollywoodbeautysecrets Since I got in my 30's I always seem to have 3 to 5 pds that make me feel uncomfortable, so I am going to try the tonic. I will report back. Dorita
misscoopa misscoopa 8 years
Let's see.. pretty sure the mannequins are always that size, pretty sure skinny jeans have always been called "skinny". Let's put 2 and 2 together here and not jump to conclusions. If you want to see a large mannequin wearing skinny jeans, go to the plus size sections. I doubt, though, that they will be calling the jeans "chubby" over there though... How ridiculous.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
People get offended by everything. It's selling a type of jeans, not a body ideal, although it's true that not all sizes will be flattered by skinny jeans. People need to lighten up.
alxxxmx alxxxmx 8 years
not offended by the display; however, skinny jeans aren't for everyone even though it comes in all sizes. i would kill though to look like a "pubescent boy" to fit into a pair and not look like sausages.
m0readventur0us m0readventur0us 8 years
I think whoever wrote that post needs to gain thicker skin...not a fan of the skinny jeans though. A completely straight leg just isn't flattering on me (and i'm petite) and they make my feet look HUGE! But then again, I've always preferred to start my own trends!
lollofit lollofit 8 years
I was so distracted by those ugly vests in this picture... Oh skinny jeans- you do look cute on some folks, just not on me :( I think this post is a good reminder to analyze the messages in advertising. Sure it's just a display, but I like the idea of pausing for a sec to consider if it has an effect on me.
a-million-suns a-million-suns 8 years
I can definitely see the writer's point about the display, although I don't think it's that big of a deal. I actually like skinny jeans, and I'm size 6, petite, and curvy (which I'm proud of :); they just have to be the right fit and worn with the right outfit. And I totally agree with everyone who took issue with the pre-pubescent boys comment. The problem with these "real women" campaigns is that they imply that thin women are somehow NOT real women. I think instead they should encourage women of all different body types to appreciate their bodies and their own unique beauty.
SKC-Sparkle SKC-Sparkle 8 years
The About Face Gallery of Offenders is excellent! Thanks Bella!
Glittersniffer Glittersniffer 8 years
Not offended...I'm a size 6, but I have a big ol' bum, so skinnies aren't for me. Can't say I'm thrilled by the placement of this particular fixture, but meh.
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 8 years
Yeah, Macy's is pretty tame, but American Apparel blows A+F out of the water. I love this cartoon
ashlayyy ashlayyy 8 years
i love skinny jeans! they are extremely flattering with everybodys shape. ive seen a lot of girls who are not on the skinny side, but skinny jeans looks great on them!
hjcseven hjcseven 8 years
i agree that the macy's advertising wasn't intentionally disparaging, and they should definitely be focusing their energy on other stores- abercrombie&fitch for example. i worked there for a few years, and on one occasion the CEO came to visit our store and some of my co-workers (who had worked there even longer than i had!) who didn't fit "the look" were made to work in the stockroom, while they brought in tall skinny blonde girls from other stores to work on the floor for a day. these are the issues that need attention the most! i don't feel that a "skinny" sign for a well-known style of jeans needs to be over-analyzed when there are many worse instances of negative body-image influences. and i, too, lovelovelove my skinny jeans. i'm a bit on the shorter side and naturally thin (my mom weighed barely over 110 while pregnant..INSANE!) so they are the most flattering fit for me. but i can see how they're not for everyone
emalove emalove 8 years
I love skinny jeans!!! But I am very petite (both height and weight) and think they're the most flattering jeans fit for my tiny frame.
Talldiva45 Talldiva45 8 years
I honestly didn't read into the display on that level - I thought skinny jeans. But I do understand that it is a display that could have been more suitable and fun for the teen section in Macy's. The prepubescent boy comment was wrong: A woman is real if she loves and accepts her bady no matter what shape or size! At least that's what I think :)
plasticine1 plasticine1 8 years
skinny jeans will never go out of style
prettywarrior prettywarrior 8 years
I'm with knowsbest and bastylefile...As someone who is petite and wears a size 0, I'm sick of being told I'm not a "real woman" and the suggestions that being thin is abnormal or downright wrong. I think that the media is definitely oversaturated with negative body images, but I don't want to see it become wrong to encourage girls to lose some America, where obesity is king, it's not a bad thing!
dragonlady920 dragonlady920 8 years
I thought "skinny jeans" as well when I saw the display, but I can see the point being made by the original author. But I don't think too many people will be offended by it. As for skinny jeans, I have way too much junk in my trunk for those to ever look good on me! :)
bengalspice bengalspice 8 years
Also ... skinny pants have been a thing from long ago in India. I love my mom's old salwar kameez sets that are skinny pants with a short tunic [resembling mini dresses], and now the style is dress-like tops with skinny pants underneath ... which is a look that is centuries old [like days of mughal empires old]. Check out for the look I'm talking about.
bengalspice bengalspice 8 years
I saw it and thought "oh skinny jeans" And for those of you skinny jean haters ... I hope the fad ends NEVER! I am so happy to be able to wear jeans under tunics from Bangladesh so I can transition from work to family events. I hate when stores over-haul with every changing fad, so when I need say skorts, I can't find them cuz they are "not in style".
Pistil Pistil 8 years
Oh, and thanks for that link! Just checking it out now. Body image in the media has always been a concern of mine.
Pistil Pistil 8 years
Hear, hear Bella!
Beauty Beauty 8 years
I agree with leslievanhouten; I think the writer does have valid points about the subliminal messages we get through a variety of sources, and discussing the issue is worthwhile. Young girls definitely, definitely, definitely get the message that being thin and pretty is more important than, say, being awesome at soccer or a total brain at school. And you don't need to look around too hard to see example after example of that. (Check About Face's gallery of offenders.) With that said, I don't find the Macy's display offensive. I think teenage girls are up on styles enough to associate "skinny" with the pants silhouette rather than the body silhouette. But on a larger scale (no pun intended, honest) I think it's worth looking at the messages we see in stores, advertisements, magazines, etc. to see what we're taking in. RE: the prepubescent boy thing, yeah, I'm not crazy about that. While I think it's important to stop implying that single-digit sizes are the only way to have a "good" body, I don't think it's fair to disparage women who are naturally petite. (As someone who wears a 30A bra, I really don't need to hear how I look like a boy from women — I get that enough from men, thanks.) But I think that was probably just a poor choice of phrasing rather than a mean-spirited attack... which is perhaps something that could be said about the Macy's display itself.
mlen mlen 8 years
i agree with several points above! 1- the display is just ugly really. 2- people are way too over the top in being politically correct or whatever that there is always someone up in arms over something. 3- i like skinny jeans, they work well with my long legs.
eshellmoyer eshellmoyer 8 years
you hit the nail on the head Knowsbest. The solution to giving average and larger girls better body image is not to give small girls bad body image. I don't know, I think if this display had been made when skinny jeans were first becoming popular it would be more of an issue. I think the cut is ubiquitous enough now that people won't automatically think of a body when looking at the display, they'll think of the jeans.
DestinyA DestinyA 8 years
Thank you for that comment, Knows Best! I am very petite (4'6") so naturally I wear a size zero. I'm just tiny. And I get so tired of people constantly making derogatory comments such as "it's a size nothing!" and commenting on how unhealthy any one wearing that size is. I'm actually quite curvy, but a lot of people don't consider that. Everyone that wears a 0 or a 2 is not 5'9". Ok, rant over. And yes, I agree that the skinny display only seems to refer to the jeans.
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