Ultra-slim models to launch in New York

Ultra-slim models to launch in New York

News that mannequin manufacturer Rootstein is to unveil an ultra-slim model aimed at teenage boys has provoked a media storm in the UK.

Rootstein is to launch its Young and Restless range in New York next month, but the controversy has been ignited by its smallest mannequin featuring a boy with a a 27in waist and 35" inch chest.

Eating disorder charity Beat maintains promoting such a skinny size does not lead to problems in itself, but makes the situation harder for anorexic people looking to recover from their problems.

"We have a clear view that promoting a very, very slender aesthetic is actually harmful to some people," Beat national chief executive Susan Ringwood told just-style.

"We are seeing so many more boys contacting us developing anorexia - it is still 80% women but more boys are being affected."

But Rootstein has vigorously defended its position, maintaining its new mannequin reflects a style that teenage boys aspire to whether through film or magazine media.

Conceding there had been "a lot of reaction," Rootstein nonetheless insisted its super-slim model was based on a young, edgy fashion style that reflected the trend towards skinny jeans as worn music producer Mark Ronson.

"The idea is to echo what is going on in the fashion world," Rootstein creative director Kevin Arpino told just-style. "We are aiming at 18-19 year olds. Teenage boys are that size."

"Fashion always has different aspects - it is the clothing being designed today such as Top Man for young boys. It depends on the frame of the person."

There is no doubt the mannequins are extraordinarily slim but do they go too far? Beat certainly seems to think so and the fact you can see the boys' ribs and concave stomachs is unsettling.

It's easy of course to proscribe what teenagers should like with the almost certain outcome they will react violently and take the opposite view.

Girls and women have long been the subject of the debate on anorexia, but as Beat points out, boys are now very much the focus of eating disorders.

But does effect follow cause? Will these mannequins make boys desperately want to end up looking like Russell Brand with his pipe-thin jeans or do they look like that anyway?

Arpino's assertion they are aiming at 18-19 year olds might still mean 13-14 year old boys think this is how they should look.

And as overweight teenagers become ever more an issue, how will a young boy who is not perfectly proportioned react to yet more images being bombarded at him of how he 'should' look.

Beat would like to see a greater range of mannequin shapes and sizes that more reflect society - Marks & Spencer ran a TV ad a couple of years ago that played exactly on that 'everywoman' theme.

For its part, Rootstein insists it will go ahead with the Young and Restless model in New York next month.

Why on earth don't the two talk to each other?