This recent video that has gone viral and featured on the Huffington Post, not to mention shared across hundreds if not thousands of Facebook posts recently, challenges the ideas of ‘beauty’ and ‘perfection’ and begs the question “what is normal?”
The video features several people with a variety of disabilities having mannequins created in their images and placed in store windows. Pro Infirmis is the organization for people with disabilities who headed up the project and the video. The video follows each individual and captures the entire process of creating the mannequins in their images. Their measurements are precisely taken and mapped out to create the exact dimensions in the shiny white plastic that were are accustomed to seeing in store windows. My favorite part is watching the reactions of the individuals as they see their mannequins revealed. Many people with disabilities never see someone or something created in such a life-like image. To see a reflection of yourself can be a rare experience. As one of the participants reacts, “it’s special to see yourself like this.”
Often mannequins are flawless ideals of the human figure of which even the majority of able-bodied individuals do not fit the stereotypes. Mannequins are used by the fashion world to sell an idea of beauty – that if shoppers wear the clothes that the mannequins display they, too can feel beautiful and flawless and emulate the ideal mannequin image. But what happens when that ideal image is challenged?
After the mannequins are created, they are placed on display in a busy street in a Zurich shop window and the video shows the varied reactions of the general public when they see the results of the disabled mannequins. What struck me most was how real the reactions of the people in the street were when they saw the disabled mannequins. Many did a double take, some ignored them completely while others stared and gawked. Their reactions varying from shock to intrigue are so telling of the variety of interactions actual individuals with disabilities have with strangers in public every day. It’s rare, however, that a video such as this captures those initial reactions and allows you, the viewer, the perspective of what individuals with disabilities witness and the challenges of public reaction.
We live in a world in which photo shopped images and celebrity obsession surrounds us via magazines, TV, movies, advertisements. Our “iPhone” society encourages us to always stay plugged into these images. When we are constantly bombarded with ideal images of beauty we start to internalize these images as the norm. That is what I love most about this video – it challenges these ideals and reminds the viewer that there is no “normal” when it comes to beauty.
What was your reaction to the video? Do you think it will change the way we view beauty or help spread more mainstream acceptance of disability in our communities? Please share your reaction in the comments!