A Touching Concern for the Health of Mannequins

This week the Telegraph published a very touching essay by Tanya Gold, describing her heartfelt concern for the health of mannequins. Specifically, she’s concerned about a Nike mannequin she’s diagnosed with obesity:

She is immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat. She is, in every measure, obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely pre-diabetic, and on her way to a hip replacement.

Feature Writing versus Science Reporting

Perhaps Ms. Gold should stick to feature writing. She’s quite good at that. But her diagnosis of obesity in mannequins is seriously ill-informed. Obesity is a disease of adipose tissue regulation. Mannequins have no adipose tissue. In addition, they don’t have a sugar addiction.

As a matter of fact, the science of obesity tells us that obesity is a complex metabolic disorder. It’s not “most often” an addiction to sugar. True, some people suppose that altered reward pathways play a role in obesity – for some people. That’s a reasonable supposition. But a supposition is not the same thing as a scientific fact. And thus, as a science writer, Gold falls short.

Physical Activity for Everyone

Gold lacks another important tidbit of factual knowledge. Staying active is important for everyone. It’s every bit as important for people living with obesity as it is for people without it. In fact, it can be even more important. Also writing in the Telegraph, Rebecca Reid explains:

Whether you can be healthy and overweight is hotly debated by medical professionals, but what seems obvious to me is that plus-size gym clothing can’t be bad if it helps more women sweat. Cynics have suggested plus-size Nike leggings will be confined to the sofa, not the cross trainer. In some cases that might be true. But for many women, they will be an invitation.

So the bottom line here is simple. Bigger people don’t need ignorant medical advice from strangers any more than mannequins. Especially from someone like Ms. Gold, who doesn’t care about them any more than she cares about those mannequins. The Telegraph has no business printing such rubbish.

A judgment about someone’s appearance isn’t a medical diagnosis. It’s just rudeness.

Click here for Reid’s response, here for more from the Guardian, and here for more from the Huffington Post. We’re not going to promote Gold’s column. So if you insist upon reading it, you’ll have to find it somewhere else.

Dreamland, photograph © Chris Weisberg / flickr

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June 13, 2019

2 Responses to “A Touching Concern for the Health of Mannequins”

  1. June 13, 2019 at 7:44 am, Martha Shea Smith said:

    Ms. Gold takes fat shaming to a new low point.

  2. June 15, 2019 at 2:45 pm, Lizabeth Wesely-Casella said:

    Dear baby Santa – my jaw just dropped and my blood pressure jumped. I’m so glad I was soothed a bit by Rebecca Reid’s comments (which are spot on), We need more of the latter and less of the former commentary.