Topshop under fire by celebs like Gemma Oaten for their tiny mannequins...

Ex-Emmerdale actress Gemma Oaten, who experienced anorexia for 13 years, has hit out at Topshop after seeing a picture posted of the tiny dummies used to model their clothes.

Becky Hopper, 23, was with size 8 to 10 friend Georgia Bibby in a Topshop in Hull when they realised the difference between their own body sizes and a mannequin on display and took a photo to show the difference. Georgia‘s thighs are 22 inches while the dummy’s are 16 inches. The picture was posted on Twitter and has since been shared over 7,000 times.

Speaking exclusively to Nowmagazine.co.uk, Gemma, 30,says: ‘I was so appalled to see that picture. Topshop have a duty of care to its customers to promote healthy body image and these mannequins are not doing that. If you sell your clothes in different sizes, where are the bigger sized mannequins?

‘It’s scary. I’ve recovered from an eating disorder and feel strongly about companies promoting healthy body image and taking responsibility for that. As patron of eating disorder support service Seed in Hull, healthy body image is something I must support. It’s not ‘skinny bashing’ it’s about society and perception to keep safe.

‘Fashion and the media do not cause eating disorders, that’s insulting to people who experience them. So I’m not saying Topshop are creating eating disorders. But they need to think about the message they are giving out by using these tiny mannequins to display their clothes. I won’t shop at Topshop again which is really sad,’ Gemma adds.

Gemma was supported by other celebrities, such as Downton Abbey actress Lesley Nicol who tweeted, @gemmaoaten Well done you angel – you know what you’re talking about and intelligent people will take notice – be sure about that.’

In the UK, most high street stores use models that replicate a size 8 or 10 and an impressive height, around 6ft. The average size of a British woman, on the other hand, is closer to a size 16 and stands at 163cm (5ft 4in).

In a statement released on Thursday, Topshop says: ‘The mannequin in question has been used in stores the past four years and is based on a standard UK size 10. The overall height, at 187cm, is taller than the average girl and the form is a stylised one to have more impact in store and create a visual focus. Mannequins are made from solid fibreglass, so in order for clothing to fit, the form of the mannequins needs to be of certain dimensions to allow clothing to be put on and removed; this is therefore not meant to be a representation of the average female body.’

Becky and Georgia who sparked the debate with their photo have been shocked by the support they have received.

‘’We’re overwhelmed by the response. We aren’t out to shame skinny girls – far from it. We’re hoping to encourage Topshop to show a more diverse range of mannequins. All sizes should be celebrated,’ Becky says. ‘Many girls can be healthy while looking similar to this mannequin. However, most cannot. Teenage girls are Topshop‘s target audience. We owe it to young girls to be more responsible with how we portray body image.’

‘All we want is more diversity,’ Georgia adds.

Here, here!

If you, or someone you love, are concerned about an eating disorder, contact Seed www.seedeatingdisorders.org.uk, helpline (01482) 718130.

Caroline Millington