The Uncanny Valley of the Dolls
Though we use and accept mannequins in our relationships with fashion and business
many of us find them disturbing. This is known as the “Uncanny Valley” syndrome
which refers to the eerie, unsettling effect on humans in response to the ever increasing
lifelikeness of humanoid objects. The valley is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity
of human reactions towards the object.
While male mannequins look reserved and aloof, female mannequins are almost always
sexualized and very often are presented in underwear (this is a rare occurrence with male
mannequins) so much so that it becomes more about the clothes and includes doll fetish
Our relationship with mannequins therefore straddles commerce, empathy and sex. This
complex relationship concentrates more fully come the twilight. The lighting focuses our
gaze more fully on the display, their poses and inevitably their returned gaze.