December 08, 2013
Disabled Mannequins: Beautiful Doesn't Mean Perfect
We have seen mannequins making big splashes because they are more representative of the "real woman" and we've also seen the mannequins in Venezuela reflecting the country's love of plastic surgery and breast implants. Zurich, Switzerland went just a little bit further. It's no secret that the smooth, plastic bodies staring out of store windows aren't true physical replicas of the people who stare back at them. But there's no reason they can't be. Pro Infirmis, an organization for the disabled, created a series of mannequins based on real people with physical disabilities, working with individuals like Jasmine Rechsteiner, a Miss Handicap winner who has spine malformations, and Erwin Aljukić, an actor with brittle bone disease. The project's title? "Because Who Is Perfect? Get Closer." The beautiful process was documented in a video (watch it above), capturing the joy of the models seeing their own unique figures recreated for the first time. But the best part of it all is that the mannequins were actually placed in store windows December 3rd, filling the shopfronts on Zurich's main downtown street, Bahnhofstrasse, in honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. "Seeing it there for real is quite a shock," said one of the video participants. And that's exactly the point. Raising awareness of those with disabilities, specifically in the realm of fashion, is a conversation that's already begun with groups such as Models of Diversity, which aims to bring models of all shapes, sizes and colors to the fashion runways and media. Outspoken individuals like Kelly Knox, the winner of BBC's "Britain's Missing Top Model," and Angela Rockwood, who returned to her modelling career with a Nordstrom campaign after becoming a C4-5 quadriplegic, have also made their voices known. Some stores have made concerted efforts to include body diversity, including those with disabilities, in their ads. Nordstrom has been doing so since 1991, while British department store Debenhams made headlines earlier this year with a Spring 2013 look book that featured women who were amputees. It's still an uphill battle to make the mannequins in our store windows reflect the shoppers passing by. But "Because Who Is Perfect? Get Closer" and the Swiss stores who participated prove that it can definitely be done.