Skinny mannequins renew "too thin" debate

Fri May 7, 2010 9:58am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Eating disorder campaigners are on the warpath over the latest designs from British mannequin maker Rootstein.

British charity for people with eating disorders Beat is up in arms over news that Rootstein will unveil a Young and Restless collection next month, which includes a male mannequin with a 35 inch chest and a 27 inch waist, a full 11 inches smaller than the average Briton according to NHS statistics.

Beat chief executive and eating disorder expert Susan Ringwood told Reuters that skinny male mannequins in shop windows can have just as unhealthy an influence on men as their female counterparts can have on women.

"Boys and men nowadays are feeling the same pressures about their bodies as women and they can compare themselves to these unrealistic images," Ringwood said.

Beat said anorexia and bulimia are not just women's problems and that the number of men with eating disorders has increased in recent years.

Rootstein was not immediately available for comment.

However, it told Britain's Guardian newspaper that the firm uses slender, but healthy teenagers as models.

"It's a trend which you can see in celebrities and rock stars -- Russell Brand has a little bit to do with it. But I am sure that muscle boys will have their time again," Rootstein creative director Kevin Arpino told the paper.

The company said measurements for last season's mannequins were bigger, but that there was increasing demand for smaller models, the Guardian reported.

(Reporting by Valle Aviles Pinedo, editing by Paul Casciato)