Home » Perception of Beauty » UK Department Store Hopes to Change Industry Norm

UK Department Store Hopes to Change Industry Norm

October 23, 2013

Was there ever a time when you picked out a really cute outfit at the store, tried it on in the dressing room, but didn’t buy it because “it didn’t look right”? What would have made it look right? Were you comparing how it looked on you to how it looked on the mannequin? The catalogue model? The celebrity who wore it on the red carpet?

The fact of the matter is, the fashion industry is full of homogenous images of women’s bodies. Unfortunately, this single image has been embedded into many minds through media and advertising as the “ideal” body to aspire to. One UK retailer hopes to change this.


Back in April, UK department store Debenhams released their “High Summer Look Book,” showcasing upcoming clothing lines and styles. What set this look book apart from the many others was their choice of models. Here’s the roster:

  • Kelly, born without her left forearm, was discovered when she won the TV show ‘Missing Next Top Model’
  • Paralympian amputee Stefanie Reid
  • Jada, size 18 model and face of the recent Plus Size Fashion Week
  • Tess, who is just over five feet tall
  • Valarie, 69 and Maxine, 44
  • Philomena, a size 18 model, who wants to be Britain’s first black plus size supermodel
  • Hugo 47, and 6ft 4in tall Lucio


Debenhams was one of the first retailers in Britain to put plus sized (or what I like to call real sized) mannequins in their stores. I once read somewhere that if women were shaped like the average mannequins we normally see in stores, the majority of our internal organs wouldn’t be able to fit inside our bodies. Yet when that super cute dress we saw on the mannequin doesn’t look the same on us, we’re disappointed.


In response to their inclusive campaigns, Debenhams received the Body Confidence Award and sits on the Government’s Body Confidence Advisory Committee. “Our customers are not the same shape or size so our latest look book celebrates this diversity. We would be delighted if others followed our lead.  Hopefully these shots will be a step, albeit a small one, towards more people feeling more comfortable about their bodies,” said Ed Watson, Director of Public Relations at Debenhams. Debenhams has also banned airbrushing from swimsuit ads.


As someone who has been bullied because of my weight and has felt the burden of not having the media’s version of the ideal body, I think what Debenhams is doing is a step in the right direction that I hope more retailers catch on to (although Abercrombie & Fitch may be a lost cause on that one).

I’d love to start including more body-positive beauty posts on this blog. I hope that it doesn’t come off as hypocritical, since this is a makeup blog and the beauty industry is not completely innocent of distributing the homogenous image of what “beauty” is. I’d like to remind my readers that nobody, not one person or company, has the authority to dictate what nor who is beautiful.

What do you think of Debenham’s campaign? Is it progressive, and do you think US retailers will follow in their footsteps?


15 Responses

  1. Jen
    | Reply

    i really love this; but i’m always really bothered when people say ‘plus sized- more like real sized’. there are girls who are naturally very small, that doesn’t make them any less real

    • Miranda | SlashedBeauty.com
      | Reply

      That is very true! I apologize for overlooking that! What I was getting at is that NOBODY can look like a mannequin at all because they are so proportionally distorted. Also the fact that being considered “plus size” in the world of fashion starts at about a size 6, the whole perception is skewed!

  2. Jennifer M.
    | Reply

    That’s amazing! Good for them. I hope other companies take note.

  3. Ingénue Coquette
    | Reply

    great to see what real women look like in their clothes – now if only they’d include models with big bellies and no boobs- then I’d really have a good idea what their clothes would look like on me!

  4. Erika
    | Reply

    I think that this is a very good first step. I hope that they go further. I’d like to see them show a “plus sized” model in a bikini without a coverup. Mmm-hmmm. All clothing and beauty companies should be more fully inclusive.

    • Miranda | SlashedBeauty.com
      | Reply

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed that 😉 There is still a long ways to go and hopefully other companies (especially in the US where the average girl is nowhere NEAR a size zero) catch on.

  5. Stephanie Louise Telford
    | Reply

    Really fabulous! & girls with different sized boobs! I always get the infamous gap that mannequins never get along the bra area. & different ages? Definitely to be celebrated. Sharing!

    • Miranda | SlashedBeauty.com
      | Reply

      Seriously! And can designers stop putting boob cups in blouses expecting them to fit everyone!? I’ve found so many cute dresses and shirts that I want to buy but I have to mutilate them to cut out the stupid boob cups that just sit on top of my own bust!

      • Stephanie Louise Telford
        | Reply

        Right? Small boobs, big boobs, lots a boobs! Lol they want us to all be the same. Those damn mannequins don’t even have to wear undergarments. Traitors.

  6. Lisa Marie Heath
    | Reply

    This is such an awesome step!

  7. Amber
    | Reply

    How wonderful!! I hope many more companies will follow suit, eventually!

    • Miranda | SlashedBeauty.com
      | Reply

      Me too! I honestly think it will be harder to catch on in the US but hopefully! If you have eve heard of the Media and Public Health Act, they’re working to help solve these issues!

  8. Phyrra
    | Reply

    This is awesome! The media has created such warped images for people on what’s normal. It’s great to see someone fighting that trend.

  9. Sheila Arkee
    | Reply

    I think this is fantastic. As a pre-teen and early teen I was so insecure about my body weight and did some major damage to myself because of the images I saw in the media. This is about time!

  10. Kim Porter
    | Reply

    It’s good to see normal sized models. I hope this works. Love the dresses the ladies are wearing, too!

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