A message to Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson: Stop Shaming Women’s Bodies!

Petition cross-posted from Change.org

Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson: Stop Shaming Women’s Bodies. It’s time to apologize and de-segregate your stores!

ImageDoes Lululemon want women to be comfortable in their clothing, or uncomfortable in our own bodies? Lululemon keeps shaming women’s bodies—and this must stop.

In August, insiders reported that Lululemon stores keep their largest items—sizes 10 and 12—segregated from smaller sizes. Shunning larger women is part of their brand strategy–a shameful thing to do.

Now, founder Chip Wilson is making matters worse: he claims that when Lululemon pants wear out too quickly, it’s because the wearers’ bodies aren’t built right for the brand: The problem is that their thighs rub together.

We’ve got news for Wilson: even though the “thigh gap” has become trendy and desirable among girls and young women, for the vast majority of us, it is absolutely unattainable in a healthy way. Those who chase the thigh gap are at increased risk of eating disorders.

Branding strategies like Lululemon’s are making the world smaller and smaller for women and girls. We are constantly being told we’re not small enough–and with these antics from brands like Lululemon and Abercrombie, there are ever fewer clothing stores that feel safe for women who just want to be comfortable in their own skin.

“Healthy bodies are being shamed so they can glorify skinny ones,” notes body image expert Marci Warhaft-Nadler. “We need to love our bodies into health, not hate them into being skinny. Lulelemon should be about getting all women IN the game, not banishing most of them to the sidelines.”

Media studies researcher and author Rebecca Hains agrees. “During my field research, I have witnessed girls as young as eight, full of self-loathing, blame their bodies when they didn’t quite fit into trendy clothing,” Hains explains. “These negative feelings can last a lifetime. The last thing we need is for major clothing retailers to actively this harmful thinking.”

Mr. Wilson: You owe women and girls an apology. If Lululemon pants wear out quickly with normal use, please acknowledge that there is a problem with your pants without blaming women. And to show your sincerity, desegregate the clothing found in Lululemon shops. Stop acting like only the thinnest of women have value: Keep sizes 10 and 12 with the rest of the clothing.

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Readers: Please sign our petition here.

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Rebecca Hains is a media studies professor at Salem State University. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

9 Comments on “A message to Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson: Stop Shaming Women’s Bodies!

  1. I signed it. He’s a moron.

    “To claim that it’s somehow a woman’s fault that your cheaper, more poorly made pants are wearing poorly, pilling, and are see-through – you are off your rocker. I live in Lulu. I have pants that are at least eight years old, the original Luon, and they’re still wearing like iron (as well they should be, costing as much as they did and still do). I see your clothes every day on my clients, most of whom are far from fat – and they’re all complaining about the pills, the sheerness – you should be ashamed of yourself. You’ve cheapened your product but not your prices. Go back to your original manufacturing processes – and apologize for your horrible choice of words.”

  2. Pingback: Unbelievable: Lululemon founder thinks career women bring cancer on themselves. | Rebecca Hains

  3. Since when is a (US) size 10 or 12 plus size? What a joke. In fact it is utterly shameful. As a size 16 I struggle finding any workout gear, let alone stylish outfits, making me look even worse when I do get up the courage to get to the gym

    • Kate–Have you tried Athleta? They have a wide variety of sizes, including plus sizes. (Look under special sizes.) I have some Athleta gear that has worked well and as far as I know they haven’t done anything stupid as a brand other than allow themselves to be purchased by the Gap, which actually worked out nicely for me because now they carry more petite options.

      You’d think Lululemon would have learned something from Abercrombie’s public meltdown.

  4. Their stuff is adorable but like 4 times what I would consider a justifiable price for their items. While I am a stay at home, homeschooling, anti-feminist mom who enjoys working out and being thin etc… I do not agree with shaming people who don’t do the exact same things I do with my life. Isn’t that what choice and free will are all about? Isn’t variety the spice of life? Isn’t this guy a huge moron? I think the answer to all of these is an unmitigated yes

  5. Professor Hains,

    Thank you for your blog. Even as a size 4-6, at 130 lbs and 5’3, my thighs touch! I have been down to 110 and the same happens. I am healthy and athletic and love my body at its’ current weight. My body is not built to be a stick figure and I do not agree with any company that chastises women for the way their bodies are built. A woman’s body is a work of art and numerous artists and people have idolized women’s bodies for their beauty. Marilyn Monroe was a symbol in the 50s and 60s and she was no where near stick thin but was considered gorgeous. What happened to those days? I will surely never shop at Lululemon, and instead have opted for Athleta. Thank you for bringing your thoughts to the general forum.

    Regards,
    SSU Alumna

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