The average shopper sees a mannequin in a fetching ensemble and thinks: “Damn, I would rock that sweater.” What they probably don’t notice is the sometimes-bizarre and unnatural poses these mall-dwelling homunculi are showing off: we’re talking postural quirks that would mean daily low- to mid-level pain in any person not made of moulded plastic.
Well, the curse of being an expert in human musculoskeletal function is never being able to stop noticing. Here’s a little glimpse into what I see on a trip through the mall with my kid:
1. That’s not how spines work.
You know how people say you’re supposed to “stand up straight”? Well, this may come as a surprise, but we don’t mean that literally. The human spine has curves: three of them! You wouldn’t know it looking at this poor bastard.
2. Oh look! They match.
Fun fact: a real person with this posture wouldn’t even be able to breathe properly, much less work out.
3. A different approach to pelvic placement
Spine still in lumbar compression? Strike one!
Weight dumped onto one leg? Strike two!
HIGH HEELS? Strike three! Yooooouuuu’re in terrible pain!
4. At ease, boys.
“Shoulders back” has to be my least favorite cue in all of fitness coaching. Why? Because whenever you tell someone to put their shoulders back, what they actually do is what these fellas are doing: they bring their elbows back and stick their necks forward.
Notice how the head of the shoulder is still protruding in a forward direction? This position may look relaxed and confident, but in reality it’s tense and weak. Let those elbows hang loose, people!
5. Oh God that poor woman.
In an effort to make this figure look sexy and alluring, they’ve contorted her into a shape in which no real human could remain without becoming exhausted and cranky. Do yourself an enormous favor and never attempt this kind of sexy.
6. Casual. Under immense physical stress, but casual.
Ah, a jaunty cock of the hip: a more enduring postural symbol of the carefree and spontaneous you’ll be hard-pressed to find.
Except on a real person you’d need a shoe two sizes bigger to fit over the bunion that comes from standing like that. Let’s just say she’s not likely in a hurry to go on that hike.
Mannequins are arranged in positions that are supposed to be attractive, not functional. The same is true for models, actors, Instagram stars and TV personalities, and their influence can mess with our perception of what’s normal.
When you consider your own posture nothing is more important than whether or not you are comfortable in your own skin. A body that can stand and move with ease is the one that will turn heads.