Old Navy has been using mannequins as their spokespeople for a while now. They even created relationships, personalities and backstories for them. It’s all a bit weird and I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what to say about it on this blog for a while now. Unfortunately, as bad as I thought the “supermodelquins” were by themselves, they’ve taken the whole thing one step further – now they’re actually asking fans to be mannequins themselves. They’ve created a reality TV style series of ads portraying a contest with real women trying to be mannequins and fans get to go online and vote for which woman should win. The ads are pretty brutal. Here’s just a sampling.
So, to be a “supermodelquin”, you have to not move (even your hair) and have the right poses. Because those things are really important. And the prize is being molded into a mannequin.
At first, I thought maybe that wasn’t so bad. The “supermodelquins” are incredibly unrealistically proportioned for most of the population. They’re well named – they appear to be proportioned like ideal supermodels. I kind of wonder how the clothing fits them (I assume that they make special versions to fit the mannequins or use clips to fit them like most stores do). So molding a mannequin from a real person with regular proportions would be a nice change of pace and introduce some believability to the mix.
But I was wrong. They aren’t molding the new mannequin to actually be the size and shape of the winner – they’re just using the same proportions as the mannequins they already have and creating a head to look like the winner. Check out these two images from the official website. The first is the contestants as real humans (albeit, probably somewhat Photoshopped because marketers can’t seem to resist their editing tools) and the second is a composite shot I made of the mannequin versions they turn into if you hover over them with your mouse.
Quite a difference, isn’t there? And those are three beautiful women! They didn’t really need scary long necks or twig-thin legs. But that’s how the “supermodelquins” look, so I guess that’s what they get.
My problem here is that it really reinforces this weird idea of what Old Navy wants its customers to look like and it’s not a good image. I don’t really want to shop somewhere that thinks I should be a supermodel. Nor do I want to be told I should be one. Mannequins standing in stores are bad enough, do we really need them holding contests to reinforce their standards of beauty too?
Not to mention that they’re just kind of creepy. Don’t believe me? Check out one of their ads from before the contest.