“Does Lululemon want women to be comfortable in their clothing, or uncomfortable in our own bodies?” asks the Change.org petition calling for Chip Wilson of Lululemon to “stop shaming women’s bodies…apologize and make clothes for women of all sizes.”
Wilson made waves yet again last week when he said in an interview that the problem with Lululemon yoga pants being see-through and pilling isn’t poor quality, but that “quite frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for [lulu yoga pants].” After the media flurry that followed, he then put out a response with an apology to Lululemon employees and an appeal to supporters without a word about the thousands of women he offended, whether they’re customers or not.
While detractors (many of which we’ve noticed are males and/or lulu ambassadors, though not all) might say neither Chip Wilson nor Lululemon owes anything to anyone, including an apology or making clothing different sizes to fit different sized women, the authors of this petition (at 1,156 signatures at the time of this post) do make some valid points about the broader issue and what this yoga pants problem says to women about their bodies in general.
Rebecca Hains and Marci Warhaft-Nadler who created the petition are members of Brave Girls Alliance an advocacy group leading the #bravegirlswant movement promoting positive messages of girl power and empowerment in response to mass media, corporations and mainstream retailers. Personally experiencing eating disorders and working with young girls today already in the practice of body and self-loathing, Hains and Warhaft-Nadler took it upon themselves to speak out for change, and against the need for the trendy, yet unrealistic “thigh gap.”
Via the Change.org petition:
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.
Furthermore, Lululemon clothing is only available up to a size 12. But a size 12 is average for women in the US and Canada, and women who wear a size 12 and larger can be just as healthy as their thinner sisters. Size is not a sound measure of fitness! If Lululemon is really a brand for women who are pursuing health and wellness, shouldn’t Lululemon clothes be made in sizes larger than the average, too?
By only producing clothes up to a size 12 and by making comments to the media that shame women’s bodies, the Lululemon brand and its founder, Chip Wilson, are treating thinness as a status symbol. Only those who are “thin” are “in” when it comes to the upscale Lululemon brand.
The full letter to Chip is below:
To: Chip Wilson, Founder, Lululemon
Your recent comments regarding women’s bodies are leading many of us to ask:
does Lululemon want women to be comfortable in their clothing, or uncomfortable in our own bodies?
Women across North America were shocked to hear you claim that women Lululemon pants wear out too quickly it’s because their bodies aren’t built right and that the problem is that their thighs are rubbing together.
As the founder of a health brand, you of all people should be sensitive to the struggles with body image that millions of Canadian and American women go through. The attitude toward women’s bodies that you are promoting, is the same one that leads to dangerous eating disorders.
We believe 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.
To show your sincerity, we are asking you to make clothing for a wider range of body sizes than those found in Lululemon shops currently. If Lululemon is really a brand for women who are pursuing health and wellness, shouldn’t Lululemon clothes be made in sizes larger than the average, too?
Please make sizes 14 and 16 available in all your stores and online.Stop acting like only the thinnest of women have value.
Click here for the full petition.
He said, “quite frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for [lulu yoga pants].”
I’m sorry, I don’t see anything wrong with that statement. Certain brands of clothes don’t fit me, so I don’t buy them! I don’t alert the media that Seven Jeans don’t fit my curvy hips!
How is this “… shaming women’s bodies…”? What exactly would he apologize for? And it’s absolutely ridiculous to assume that a company should suddenly “…make clothes for women of all sizes.” We don’t exact that standard on ANY other company. Lululemon knows their market, and they cater to it. Should they suddenly make kids active wear and a pregnancy line as well?
Lululemon is not ONLY for supermodel skinny women. I am a perfectly normal size 8, and their clothing fits me just fine. I can think of particular friends who are size 14 or over, and they don’t shop at Lulu. Simple.
The problem with Lululemon is beyond just this one problem area of women’s sizes. Note below link to an article from Maya Devi Georg to boycott Lululemon. It is well documented that Lululemon, in general, have historically done many many things that are contradictory to the core of yoga philosophy. Yet they have built their empire on the yoga community.
I can respect that a fashion designer has a vision of what their clothes look like on a physical body, but they ultimately cannot control who buys their clothes. And because I am in this industry, I can tell you people will alter and tailor something to death because they must have that fashion piece. But to actively not make available sizes at a store so that larger-sized consumers are discouraged to buy their clothes is underhanded and discriminatory (don’t forget despicable). They make up to size 12, which is standard. But they don’t put out 10’s and 12’s by choice. That is discrimination. How would you feel if they don’t put out your “perfectly normal size 8’s” because Chip Wilson thinks you don’t look good in his clothes and don’t want size 8’s wearing his clothes? Or that your size 8’s seams are ripping around the hips because your hips don’t work for his clothes? THEY ARE ACTIVE WEAR THAT ARE ELASTIC!!! It is absolutely ridiculous and inexcusable.
What is even more sad is that it is always the people that are not negatively affected by these things that defend the violator. Do you people not have any sympathy on a matter that does not negatively affect you? This thing with Lululemon is a general discriminatory policy within the company itself. And if you cannot comprehend that…
So then the Big and Tall store discriminates against petite and thin people? Hair products geared towards women of color discriminate against Caucasian women?
Each brand/company targets a desired audience. If they didn’t put out a size 8 (or whatever size I am) I would go somewhere else where I could find clothes that fit rather than start a petition to have them put out clothes for me.
Big and Tall does not discourage a smaller person from shopping there. The small sizes are not offered because that is not their target audience and it is transparent in their marketing – it is in their name. They simply don’t make smaller sizes. But with Lululemon, they make the size 10 and 12’s. But they don’t put it out because they don’t want those shoppers. Can you see the difference? That is pure discrimination.
With the hair products, if you want to use those products, then use it. No one discourages the sale. It won’t do the right thing for your hair, but you can use it if you want.
Do you even get the point of any of these arguments?
So it sounds like you would be OK with Lululemon advertising itself as “The place for skinny, rich, bitches to get yoga stuff” because it would be right there in the advertising. That’s completely absurd.
The problem is that you and people like you think that everyone should cater to your every whim. I’ve got a dose of reality for you: Some people will make decisions without even thinking to consult you. Lululemon sells certain clothes to fit certain people. Big and Tall sells certain clothes to fit certain people. Adaptive Apparel sells certain clothes to fit certain people. Apple has a clear idea of how it wants to portray its product to attract a certain type of customer. Same with many other companies.
I don’t shop at some stores because I don’t care for the fit/style/message of a certain brand. That is my decision. It is your own fault if you refuse to give your patronage to a company you like.
This petition is ridiculous. Lululemon has the same rights to discriminate as everyone else.
I wanted to reply directly back to James, but his comment does not allow replies…
James, what is absurd is your comment. Big and Tall is a non-derogatory description of the company’s target audience and the type of products they sell (though the word “Big” may be questionable). Other example’s are Today’s Man or Gap Kids – they describe the products offered but do not discriminate women or adults from purchasing their products. So I cannot equate “The place for skinny, rich, bitches to get yoga stuff” as being the same thing. And it shows your level of understanding of the issues to even suggest something so irrelevant.
I will concede with your point that if Lululemon does not want size 14 or bigger, it is their prerogative. Plenty of women’s apparel companies do not make larger than a size 12. However, if you do make a 10 or 12, it is unethical to hide or make it difficult for those consumers to buy those products. The issue goes beyond personal choice or personal taste – when a company actively selects to discourage a group from purchasing their products to maintain an image, it is discrimination.
Do you seriously believe that they design a garment, grade the patterns into a full size run, procure the fabric, project demand, issue POs to factories, transport the finished goods from Asia to North America, and then just warehouses these larger sizes to sit on them and not sell them?
Exactly. Some brands don’t fit me well. I don’t bitch and whine about how I’m being “shamed”.
The fact that this is even being discussed speaks more to the quality of Lulu’s marketing department rather than any dishonest business practices. It’s not Lululemon’s fault that people refuse to consider any line of clothing without a little omega.
This whole issue simply serves to highlight people who think the world revolves around them.
Why is there so much fuss around this brand? As a company they decide their target audience. Heavier women can find yoga pants in other stores. Why push a company to cater to your needs? If a brand doesn’t cater to my needs I shop elsewhere. Big deal!
Furthermore, this whole “fat shaming” is giving people an excuse to maintain an unhealthy lifestyle. There’s no such thing as genetics causing you to be overweight. Eat a healthy plant based diet and watch yourself not only lose weight, but lower your cholesterol levels, reduce risk of cancer, reduce risk of osteoporosis and a slew of other diseases. You have control of your body and weight. How can you be a size 14 and be healthy? Do you know what “healthy” means?
People are stuck in this calorie restricting/diet mentality and of course it doesn’t work so they remain overweight then get angry when healthy people call them out on their poor health. Research the truth! Watch Forks over Knives and read up on doctors like Dr. Barnard, T. Colin Campbell, Dr. McDougall, Dr. Pam Popper.
Woah. I’m really surprised to read a response like this here. I’m a size 16/18. I weigh 200 pounds. I’ve been on a healthy plant based diet for more than five years. I took T. Colin Campbell’s certification in Plant-based Nutrition course through Cornell Online. I workout, cardio and strength training, and I have a home yoga practice. I teach yoga. I’m healthy, by which I mean I’m strong and energetic; I’m rarely sick; and my blood panels are stellar. My weight may be due to genetics or to a medication I have to take to live. I don’t know. But to question if people know what “healthy” means is, well, condescending at best. And to ask if you can be a size 14 and healthy, well, yes. Yes I can.
Thank you, Smacky. My sentiments exactly! Read my comments.
Thanks for being wicked awesome! I’m a 14/16 and 200 ish lbs thanks in part to a recently diagnosed chronic pain disorder. So I’ve gained weight but I’m not gonna let it define me. I’m just an hourglass with extra minutes is all! Honestly, I don’t give a rat’s rump about the actual pants. I’m poor and enjoy shopping at walmart. Why b/c the clothes are affordable, really last and fit my naturally busty 5 foot frame with a nice booty to balance it out. I think the crime is in making women of all sizes believe that they need to purchase those insanely priced clothes to best attain the benefits of yoga. Take the labels out and all you’re left with is what seem to be (from what I’ve read) subpar pants and a lighter wallet. Gym outfits shouldn’t cost more than a car payment to me, but maybe that’s just Great Lakes small town thinking for ya.
Are you serious? I cannot believe I am reading this?
Who ever decided anything less than a size 14 is healthy (what about women who are healthy but are over 6-feet tall who have to wear larger sizes)? And by the same token over a size 14 is unhealthy (what about all these petite women who maintain a very unhealthy lifestyle)? Have you not met vegetarians who are obese (and I know overweight vegetarians) or have the worst health because they are not eating right? Or that those exact unhealthy vegetarians are becoming anemic because their body needs animal nutrients? Or that there have been billions of omnivores historically that are considered healthy? To qualify someone as being healthy or not simply by their dress-size is insulting. And you as a woman should be offended by your own comments.
And if you don’t think genetics has anything to do with weight, maybe you need to do some research.
And Fork Over Knives was talking more about the correlation between diet and different degenerative diseases, and obesity being one of the issues, not the only issue. There is a whole lot more than obesity discovered in The China Study. Plus, a “primarily” balanced plant-based diet is preferable. But having some animal proteins in a primarily plant-based diet does not automatically destroy the benefits.
I really don’t get what the huge fuss is about. I’ve lost a lot of weight and have always worn lulu pants. I wore size 14 pants as high as size 18 and as low as a size 8/10. They’re nearly three years old, and you still can’t see through them. The point is that any body type can shop at lulu. A size 18 may not be able too fit into everything in the store, but it’s not like the store is just for size 2s.
Why bother with a petition? The owner is a bigoted pig, and the stores are run according to his values. He needs to lose a lot of sales.
I don’t know which Lululemon stores you have been in, but I can walk right in and buy a size 8, 10 or 12. They aren’t hidden. They are right on the shelves. And online.
And so I suppose the couple of stores YOU have visited absolutely represents the rest of the country and North America in general. The fact a few or some of them do it is ethically wrong for the whole company to be responsible.
As far as I am concerned, my argument is beyond just the sizing issue and whether or not they offer the 10’s and 12’s. What Lululemon has done wrong is of much greater consequence than whether or not some of the stores hide the larger sizes or not.
Yep. May Lululemon crash and burn. Chip Wilson, himself, dumped stock he owned in Lululemon months ago. He basically took the money and ran and is still running …
Someone feels they have little to nothing to lose, out goes that built-in governor … such as the one that should be on his mouth …
That destructive pattern repeats itself with innovators, founders and visionaries ALL THE TIME …
OMG! People, who the fuck cares what some asshole corporate douchebag thinks?! Just don’t shop there, simple. I can’t believe there are people deluded enough to waste their time starting a petition to ask a publicly-traded company to please make more product to buy (more mass-produced, overpriced garments made in shoddily-built factories in the developing world). Lululemon is beholden to only one entity: their shareholders. This is great marketing for them, now they can launch more “new” product for the asleep masses.
The fact that Lulu & co. actually conjured a petition from change.org pretty much means that a majority of people think they suck. I’m glad the article brings up Lululemon ambassadors who are tantamount to the Aryan Youth branch of the Third Reich. To really drive the point home I would boycott these ambassador’s studios as well.
Really? You’re equating a group who advocated for the extermination of an entire nationality with a private company who wants to run its business a certain way? That seems a little extreme.
I was not using that analogy lightly. For me, the reputation of legitimate yoga is at stake and Lulu is adopting propaganda tactics that are eerily similar to Goebbles’. Lulu finds empty headed and tractible fitness nuts to act as the face of yoga when all parties are trying to milk this sacred cow for all it’s worth. That is why people in this thread are so impassioned. Get a clue!
I’ll keep my eyes open for the next Lulu ad calling for the systematic extermination of a group of people. I think you need some perspective. Go check out a Holocaust museum sometime. I’m no fan of Lululemon but they aren’t evil.
To be honest, the people on this thread are more in line with the ideals of nazism than the Lulus. Lululemon isn’t trying to force anything on anybody. People are free to ignore its message/products as they wish.
James, where you are wrong is that Lululemon, because they are such a giant in the yoga industry, people are remaining silent on their criticisms because they are afraid of the repercussions of speaking out. People do not then actually have free-will as you imagined. That is the invisible restraint that Lululemon has on the yoga industry.
I am going to cite Maya Devi Georg’s Op-Ed note again. And read some of the comments on the chain. I have had a few exchanges with her on this current Lululemon uproar. She says blogs and other publications were refusing to publish her article because they were afraid of losing their Lululemon endorsements. Blogs!!! The function of a blog is to opine and talk about current events, etc. And Maya Devi Georg is an accomplished contributor to many yoga related publications. All the topics discussed were well documented in many legitimate, non-yoga related sources, so no one should have been afraid of supporting this article. So it is very naive to think that Lululemon is so innocent.
But beyond this Change.org petition, the bigger issue is ethical business practices. And Lululemon is severely lacking in it. All we are trying to do is shed light on the matter so that consumers are aware of what they are supporting. Just like you keep mentioning, we are trying to give the consumer more options and saying there are other companies for yoga/athletic wear other than Lululemon. But just know what they are about…
Just an observation but LL also makes men’s athletic clothing…the men are not complaining about the sizing or quality etc..
Male here! Lulu has the WORST selection of men’s clothing. Whenever I see a guy wearing Lulu, I chuckle that the poor sap got taken to the cleaners for his shorts. Most men worth their salt wouldn’t pay over $35 for yoga apperal. I am very disturbed about how this company uses Yamas and Niyamas as an ad campaign.
I obviously need to know some stuff about what’s appropriate for a man to buy. I’d like to know where the rules for masculine salt are. I wouldn’t have spent the more than $35 dollars I did spend if I knew what the guidelines were.
What’s the proper price level for something like running shoes? I bought a pair of shoes that were pretty expensive, and I’m afraid I may get viewed as less than worthy by a gatekeeper such as yourself.
Also, what are some good brands that I should be displaying when I encounter someone like yourself who judges people based on brands. Is this Yama and Niyama a good brand? I can’t find them online. They sound expensive.
here is the deal…almost every teacher i know has been quietly snickering about lululemon for years…the tragic death, the brainwashed giddy employees, the child labor remarks, the LLL name remarks. the place is creepy- the clothes mediocre. there are many other brands out there that feel and look better from companies with better practices more aligned with yogic values and overall ethical conscious values. the company has moved over to the absurd at this point. i feel bad for folks that work there – many i know are figuring out exit plans. many ambassadors are disassociating from the brand and facebook has blown up with lulu bashing. the whole thing is creepy. one teacher i know is having a no lulu day class free of charge as long as you dont wear it.
I love the idea of a free “no-lulu” class! I remember the time before Lulu existed, and there were no brand names allowed in yoga class. Branding does not belong in a yoga class, it’s supposed to be a sanctuary from all that crap (and it’s true about yoga teachers low opinion of Lulu).
“Neither Chip Wilson nor Lululemon owes anything to anyone”? Well, I’d opine that any business that wants to sell a manufactured product to the public owes that public a good quality product, especially at the prices Lululemon charges. Blaming your customers for the crappiness of your yoga pants is not going to help you retain those customers or attract new ones.
I would have been #1,157 (or thereabouts) … I have been following this issue extremely closely on various news sites … However, I do not support commercialized yoga, and those companies that bottom feed off commercialized yoga.
That said, I occasionally shop at Athleta. Wearing not just yoga wear from them, and for activities such as going to full-time work with a lengthy commute. I do not “go to yoga” …
People need to understand that people (and businesses) discriminate all the time. I don’t like Lululemon and so I don’t shop there (you might say I discriminate against Lululemon *gasp*). They have a product/message/image/whatever that I don’t agree with and so I don’t shop there. I feel the same way about Apple and Xbox and some other companies, too. Those are decisions I made based on my personal values in response to decisions they made based on their values.
Lululemon is within its rights to run its business however it chooses (within certain legal limits). They are free to cater to a certain body type. I (along with the rest of you) am free to not shop there.
Just because a company doesn’t do exactly what you want doesn’t mean that the company is evil. This petition is embarrassing.
Tired of buying overpriced pants that rip and tear in the crotch area after a few months then check us out at http://www.facebook.com/ZipXit
I’m surprised there are no comments addressing Lululemon’s yoga tops, which are as tight and constricting as their pants. I can fit into their XS pants, but I can’t get a single one of their tops over my chest to even try it on! To make clothing for yoga—a heart-opening practice—that binds women’s breasts is absurd. I watch all the gals wearing the brand at my yoga classes and they clearly are uncomfortable, their breasts flattened like pancakes. For those of us who wear a C-D cup or have had reconstruction following illness, I say, “Lululemon, get lost.”