Does Lululemon want women to be comfortable in their clothing, or uncomfortable in their own bodies?
Lululemon is the fourth most profitable store in the U.S., behind Coach, Tiffany and Apple. Founder Chip Wilson presents the company as a "technology" company, because that's how they justify the cost of their $100 yoga pants-- saying they're high-tech.
The problem is, lately, those "high-tech" pants are wearing out incredibly quickly, leading to complaints from angry consumers.
Wilson's response? It's the wearers' fault for being too large. 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.
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.
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. 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 foster this harmful thinking."
Shaming women's bodies is never acceptable, and certainly not from a brand that is worn by people who are trying to be healthy. Therefore, we are calling Wilson out and asking him to apologize -- and furthermore, to stop segregating sizes 10 & 12, the brand's largest sizes (which aren't even plus sizes!), at the back of the store.
Turns out that his penchant for blaming women is nothing new: In 2009, he wrote a blog post in which he blamed women for their own breast cancer, too. According to Chip's view of the world, breast cancer is the fault of "cigarette-smoking Power Women who were on the pill" who were "taking on the stress previously left to men in the working world."
Let's make it clear that blaming women for things beyond their control -- whether the durability of his pants' fabric or the life-threatening illnesses they contract -- is not okay, ever. On a side note, It's surprising that someone who is ranked the 10th richest man in Canada wouldn't invest in a little media training. Apparently wealth can't buy wisdom.
Rebecca Hains and I have launched a petition asking Mr. Wilson to apologize, acknowledge the problem with their product and to desegregate their sizes because women need to celebrate who they are and stoping hating how they look.
It's time to speak up!
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.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Despite being known for edgy and controversial clothing, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/urban-outfitters-all-its-recent-controversies-explained/2012/03/29/gIQAP2lDjS_blog.html">Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne's</a> support of anti-gay marriage presidential candidate Rick Santorum led to a boycott, according to the Washington Post.
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey wrote in January 2013 that Obamacare wasn't a form socialism -- as he had called it in 2009 -- but <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/whole-foods-ceo-obamacare-fascism_n_2488029.html?utm_hp_ref=business">"more like fascism."</a>
Yoga apparel retailer Lululemon Athletica may have annoyed some of its more egalitarian customers when it included a quote from <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/business/media/combines-ayn-rand-and-yoga.html?_r=0">Ayn Rand's famously pro-capitalist novel <em>Atlas Shrugged</em> on its bags</a>, the New York Times reported. Founder and chairman Dennis J. Wilson is a known fan of the book.
New Balance customers ran a petition on Change.org after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/10/new-balance-romney-gay-marriage_n_923647.html">Chairman Jim Davis donated $500,000 to pro-Mitt Romney</a> Super PAC Restore Our Future. New Balance's CEO released a statement in response, reaffirming the company's support of gay marriage.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a popular destination for forward-thinking music lovers, but the<a href="http://www.coachellarecordings.com/press-statement/"> brand ran into some hot water</a> when Philip Anschutz, head of its parent company AEG, made <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/07/19/543801/consumer-brands-conservative-attack-ads/?mobile=nc">a $50,000 donation to a Boehner-linked Super PAC</a>, according to ThinkProgress.
TOMS shoes founder and CEO Blake Mycoskie found himself called out after speaking at an event hosted by Focus on the Family, an anti-abortion group. Mycoskie later claimed he was unaware of the <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2011/07/toms_shoes_founder_might_have.html">"full extent of Focus on the Family's beliefs."</a>
Ex-CEO of GoDaddy.com Bob Parsons caused a controversy when he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/31/bob-parsons-godaddy-ceo-elephant-hunt_n_843121.html">uploaded a video of himself hunting an elephant</a>. He was replaced as CEO shortly after.
Follow Marci Warhaft-Nadler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/fit_vs_fiction