Swede reveals new site in wake of online mannequin shenanigans
Published: 21 Mar 2013 16:53 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Mar 2013 16:53 GMT+01:00
After her picture of a Swedish mannequin left the internet buzzing, Malmö resident Rebecka Silvekroon has seized the moment to keep the world talking about body image, making her our pick for Swede of the Week.
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As a communications professional who has been blogging for more than a decade, the 29-year-old Silvekroon is no dummy when to comes knowing about what whips the online world into a frenzy.
However, she was always careful to keep her "low-key" personal blog, Becka.nu, separate from her professional profile.
"My blog is really meant for my friends and family. It's really boring. I sometimes post pictures of what I had for breakfast," she admits to The Local.
But that all changed last week when a picture Silvekroon had snapped in an Åhlens department store in Malmö and published on her blog back in 2010 suddenly landed on the Facebook page of Women's Rights News.
"Store mannequins in Sweden. They look like real women. The US should invest in some of these," the caption under the image read.
It didn't take long for the image of what Silvekroon describes as a "normal looking" mannequin wearing purple lingerie to spread like wildfire, racking up likes, shares and links to other Facebook pages, blogs, and news sites.
"By the weekend I think the picture had been liked more than one million times," Silvekroon says.
This week, Swedish tabloid Expressen described the Lund native as "world famous" on account of the exposure generated by the picture that was spontaneously snapped on her iPhone during a routine shopping trip.
"It's pretty strange. I never wanted to be famous, but it's fun," she says.
"I'm happy the picture is generating a lot of attention. There have been so many positive comments from men and women all over the world who want more stores to use mannequins like that one."
After first hearing about the buzz on Friday last week, Silvekroon couldn't really understand all the fuss, as mannequins like the one featured in the now infamous picture are rather old news in Sweden.
"These mannequins have been around for several years and I think most Swedes have probably seen at least one for themselves," she explains.
Silvekroon theorized that part of the reason the picture got so many people talking was that the issue perhaps hasn't been discussed as much in the US and UK as it has previously in Sweden.
"I remember last autumn when a blogger was fired for calling a model in an ad for SATS gym chain 'fat'," she says, referring to a controversy caused by celebrity blogger Katrin Zytomierska.
"And the issue has also been discussed every time Lindex and H&M clothing stores launch their outdoor underwear ads. And shortly after I posted the image in 2010, there was a debate about super skinny mannequins at [fashion retailer] Gina Tricot."
Silvekroon thinks it's a shame that the mannequin in her picture is used to market "plus size" clothing and that it was described by some as "full-figured" or "overweight".
"I wouldn't say the mannequin is big or plus-sized. I'd say it's normal sized. Most people aren't size zero," she explains.
"It's tragic that mannequins don't look like real people."
Many initial reports about Silvekroon's picture erroneously described it as having been taken in an H&M store. When the Swedish fashion giant said the mannequin wasn't one of theirs, reports emerged claiming the whole thing was a hoax.
"It's a bit frustrating that there are still lots of articles that got it wrong," Silvekroon laments.
"Åhlens should get the credit they deserve. I really hope this gets other retailers to rethink their choices when it comes to the mannequins they use."
While eschewing any desire to remain in the spotlight herself, Silvekroon has nevertheless decided to take advantage of the current fascination with Swedish mannequins by launching a new website to "do something useful with my 15 seconds of fame".
Aptly titled Swedish Mannequins, the site went live on Wednesday and features sections detailing the story behind the viral fame of Silvekroon's picture as well as an image gallery with other mannequins of various shapes and sizes.
The new site also encourages others to send in pictures of similar mannequins and share their thoughts about the body image with the aim of "getting the attention of retailers and companies and make them use normal sized mannequins in the future".
"Simply put, let us try to change the world of fashion, one small image at a time!" the website reads.
Silvekroon hopes the new site will help deflect attention away from her personal blog and serve as an online outpost for continued discussion and debate.
"I've been building websites for years and I wanted to create a page that could serve as a clearinghouse for articles and keep the discussion about body image and mannequins alive," she explains.
"I have no idea where it may lead, but I want to contribute in some way.
"I don't want to be known for taking a picture, but for helping create a discussion about how men and women are portrayed in the media."
Editor's Note:The Local's Swede of the week is someone in the news who - for good or ill - has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as Swede of the Week is not necessarily an endorsement.