Karen Millen's mannequin with protruding ribs and collabones / Twitter/laurevans311

The British retailer has been accused of promoting unrealistic body

British fashion retailer Karen Millen has sparked controversy over a skinny-looking mannequin with protruding ribs and collarbones on display in one of its 130 stores in the UK.

The high-street chain has been accused of promoting a “dangerous” body image on social media after the mannequin was spotted at the West Quay store in Southampton by mental health campaigner Laur Evans.

She tweeted a photo of the brand’s new season’s dress (which retails at £160), accompanied by the caption: “@KarenMillen, why've you chosen to make collar bones and ribs so central to the marketing of this dress? Dangerous!”

Evans introduced her post with “[TW:ED]” which stands for  “trigger warning: eating disorder”. The term is commonly used on social media to express concern about images that promote unrealistic body image and therefore eating disorders.

The internet reacted to it, proving that skinny-looking mannequins that suggest an unrealistic body image won’t cease to spark controversy until they get more realistic, especially at times when the fashion industry has already shown it is open to embracing diversity.

Last year lingerie label La Perla had to remove a mannequin with protruding ribs from its New York boutique, Primark had to do the same following a costumer complaint and then Topshop came at a centre of a row over body image after the picture of a “shocking” skinny mannequin went viral on social media.

Evans said: “Collarbone and rib imagery is a core theme in 'thinspiration' that fuels, not just eating disorders, but the body dissatisfaction that permeates our culture.

”Karen Millen describes themselves, on their own website, as 'for the confident, uncompromising woman of today'”.

A spokesperson for Karen Millen responded: “As a brand we celebrate a range of body sizes within our collections and offer size six through to 16. Both the mannequin and model you have seen representing Karen Millen are size 10, which is industry standard. No offence was meant and the intention is not to advertise a negative body image but to focus on the style of the garment in both instances.”

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