Fitness junkies worldwide pay big bucks to rock the stylized “A” that is synonymous with lululemon on their athletic wear. However, this year lululemon’s logo may be recognizable for all the wrong reasons. Most recently, founder Chip Wilson appeared on Bloomberg Television’s Street Smart and added to the public relations headache by saying:
“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work” in Lululemon’s pants. … “It’s about the rubbing through the thighs,” and “how much pressure is there.”
NPR was one of the first to break this story yesterday, and a simple Google search will reveal that many outlets have jumped on the brand for implying that if you lack a thigh gap, lululemon pants aren’t for you. Is this what Wilson really meant? We can’t be sure, but he does seem to stick his foot in his mouth quite often.
These comments came as a response to one of lululemon’s previous PR nightmares, where customers complained of pilling and torn seams. But we can’t forget earlier this year, when insiders reported that lululemon stores consciously hide its larger sizes, and kicking off the controversy was the recall of its see-through yoga pants in March.
While I have admitted in previous posts to loving certain lululemon products, I cannot support the founder’s comments and the brand’s recent news presence that seem to intentionally shame plus-sized customers. And after looking at the pattern of occurrence, it seems as if this poor attitude is a larger issue of company culture, and not just that of the founder. It’s sad that such a large population of women are being marginalized, when in an ideal world everyone would be encouraged to wear clothes that make them feel good and that encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle.
What do you guys think about the intense criticism of lululemon in the news this year, and specifically this week?
And on a slightly unrelated note, if you’re still interested in reading more, check out the New York Times‘ recent article on body image in Venezuela.