High-profile advocates of the idea that women shouldn’t be shamed over their bodies have lambasted a recent UK newspaper column which criticises Nike‘s new plus-size mannequins.
In case you missed it, a photograph of a plus-sized mannequin at a London Nike store sparked international headlines this week, with many praising the athletic clothing brand for showcasing an inclusive range of products.
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I WANT TO BE ABLE TO WALK INTO A NIKE STORE AND SHOP FOR MYSELF SO I CAN LOOK GOOD AND FEEL GOOD AT THE GYM JUST LIKE ANYONE ELSE! I THINK WE’ve ALL EXPERIENCED PUTTING ON A NEW OUTFIT TO THE GYM AND FEELING SO MUCH BETTER, IT’s a CONFIDENCE BOOSTER BECAUSE GUESS WHAT JUST SIMPLY GOING TO THE GYM REQUIRES A LOT OF CONFIDENCE FROM US BECAUSE THERE IS PEOPLE THAT JUDGE AND MAKE US FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE. NIKE IS WELCOMING ALL SIZES , NIKE IS ABOUT SPORT AND IT’s A LIFESTYLE! HOW AM I MEANT TO GO TO THE GYM?! In JEANS?! WHOEVER HAS A PROBLEM WITH THIS BEAUTIFUL MANNEQUIN HAS PROBLEMS WITH THEMSELVES. FITNESS IS FOR EVERYONE!! WHY DOES IT BOTHER YOU? IF A MANNEQUIN IS BOTHERING YOU THEN I WONDER HOW MUCH I BOTHER THESE PEOPLE WHEN I WALK INTO NIKE. SO ???? AND LET US WORK ON FEELING GOOD, FIT AND PAY ZERO ATTENTION TO THESE CLOSED MINDED PEOPLE. _ #nikemannequin #nikeplussize #nike #nikewomen
However, The Telegraph columnist Tanya Gold penned a column suggesting Nike was, in fact, working to normalise an unhealthy weight range by promoting those sports bras and leggings.
Specifically, Gold said a woman the same size as that mannequin “cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”
The piece was seized upon by The Good Place star Jameela Jamil, who has tirelessly catalogued the myriad of ways pop culture and commercial enterprises make women feel like their bodies don’t belong. Her take: Nike was totally in the right, and Gold was guilty of “bullying and bigotry” for making unfounded assumptions about women who exercise.
“How can we shame people about their size and then try to take down mannequins for sportswear that include their size, inviting them at last into a part of the world they have been previously excluded from,” she added in an Instagram post.
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I went off. If you care about women, you best care about fat women too and show up and get loud and speak out about this sort of outrageous bigotry. It’s bad enough they have been subjected to constant policing, harassment and concern trolling over their health, when nobody knows their health situation. I GURANTEE I am less fit and less healthy than all of my friends who are bigger than me. You don’t know *shit* about their health. You are not an MRI. But THIS is crazed bullying. It’s hate speech. We can’t allow people to discuss size like this. We wouldn’t allow it about race or religion in these huge publications. The @telegraph are supporting bullying and hatred. If we just sit back and do nothing, then WE are supporting bullying and hatred. I’m disgusted and furious. Everyone at every size deserves to feel comfortable and good about themselves. And god dammit how can we shame people about their size and then try to take down mannequins for sportswear that include their size, inviting them at last into a part of the world they have been previously excluded from. So backwards, so grotesque and so disappointing. ????
Jamil later shared a more succinct post on the matter:
Earlier, memoirist Roxane Gay added her take, responding directly to the Telegraph’s article on Twitter.
I work out six days a week. I am fat. I wear workout clothes while working out. The world continues to turn. Shut up.— roxane gay (@rgay) June 10, 2019
Those two figures are hardly the only individuals to have been rankled by Gold’s column, with many women sharing how they exercise while not fitting Gold’s ideal of a ‘woman who works out’.
Let me introduce you to my wonderful partner @cumiskey_lisa. Over 150 parkruns and 25 marathons completed in the last 5years. Try telling her she can't run @Telegraph !! She'll admit she's "built for comfort not speed" but that's no barrier to participation. pic.twitter.com/Go4VyLwzDD— Paul Bissett (@paul_bissett) June 10, 2019
Regards the fat shaming articles about @Nike's decision to show a plus size mannequin in sports wear: this is my plus size body. I'm too fat to be labelled by sports media as athletic or aspirational. This plus size body is 1800 miles into a 5000 mile walk. pic.twitter.com/QQn7FjFdVd— One Woman Walks Europe (@WomanWalksWales) June 10, 2019
I’m an athlete the size of the mannequin. I can run. I was so excited when my school made a contract with @Nike because they have athletic wear I can wear unlike other big companies. They don’t want us sitting on our butts. They are giving the opportunity to be ACTIVE and HEALTHY pic.twitter.com/ctE5OhiRw9— Madison Haggerty (@madisonhagg) June 10, 2019
Add to that the studies that show making people feel worse about their bodies will only keep them from taking steps to ensure their health, and it seems Gold published the perfect take: incendiary and flawed.
As an aside, we highly recommend you look at some of the strongest women in the world, and ask yourself if they’d fit Gold’s conception of a ‘healthy’ aesthetic.
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