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The Language of Mannequins

Body language is possibly the most convincing and stimulating form of human communication. It can suggest expressions of excitement, anger, confidence and more, without the assistance of any spoken or written language. Because of its unique power, body language is the perfect medium for communication through mannequins in storefronts or advertisements. Mannequin designers have long capitalized on strategic posing in order to fully utilize mannequin forms, not only creating a display for clothes, but a communication to the public simultaneously. Mannequins in window displays everywhere speak to passers by, sending the message they were created to tell.

Depending on the merchandise, mannequins have different stories to tell. Confident stylish poses are common in designer clothing venues, while action poses are perfect for sporting goods stores. This strategic use of body language suggests to a shopper that the clothes are important and stylish, or the athletic clothing and equipment will make you a great athlete. This kind of non-verbal communication is far more effective than people realize. When a shopper perceives something visually rather than in written or spoken form, they are less likely to analyze the information and dismiss the claims. Instead, most people who see a mannequin’s body language will accept this communication as real and satisfying. This is part of what makes mannequins very powerful store fixtures.

Throughout the history of mannequins, they have embodied different interpretive messages depending on the trends or mentality of society. For this reason, the study of mannequin positions throughout history can reveal a great deal about historical societies. So many factors affect mannequin production decisions. What type of model is the mannequin drawn from? What kind of interpretation of human anatomy is present? What levels of fashion does the mannequin suggest? What materials were used? All of these questions can lend a glance at past societal differences. Mannequin forms of the 1800’s were dramatically larger in girth than today’s specimens, suggesting the logical explanation that the perception of beauty and the human body was very different then. There are also hundreds of societal conclusions that can be drawn through the body language of mannequins, clues about women’s roles in society or perhaps the hierarchy of class.

Political, artistic, and technological issues are also reflected in mannequin body language, because these silent salesmen display the imaginative needs of society and people groups. Not only are mannequins extremely effective communicators, but they are a record of old messages intended for people of the past.