Salem State Professor Wants Lululemon to Make Yoga Pants For All Sizes

She started a petition after comments made by the company’s CEO sparked a conversation about body image.

yoga pants photo by Jamie Ducharme

Yoga Pants photo by Jamie Ducharme

A Salem State University professor has teamed up with a body image expert to fight against Lululemon’s CEO Chip Wilson, after comments he made about plus-size women not being fit enough for the brand’s yoga pants aired on national television.

Rebecca Hains, a media studies researcher at the school, and author of books on how body image impacts girls, enlisted the help of “body image advocate” Marci Warhaft-Nadler, to start a petition calling for Wilson to acknowledge that there is a problem with the company’s pants, not women’s bodies.

“I have seen first hand how little girls as young as eight, when they don’t fit into clothes that are popular among their peers, really blame themselves,” said Hains. “Women and girls often turn criticism inwards and it can be damaging to their body image and self esteem.”

Hains and Warhaft-Nadler want the company to make clothing for a wider range of body sizes than those found in Lululemon shops. They said the shop currently only offers up to size 12, which happens to be the average size for American women. “Stop acting like only the thinnest of women have value,” they wrote in the petition started on Change.org.

The petition stemmed from comments Wilson made last week, when he appeared on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart” with Trish Regan. While on the air, Wilson addressed recent issues the company had with the sheerness in their yoga pants, where they became see-through when put on, and said, “some women’s bodies just don’t work for it.”

The pants were recalled because of the faulty material, putting a serious dent in the company’s profit, and leading to some disappointment from their loyal fans.

But Wilson blamed it on the people wearing the product, rather than the material itself. “It’s about the rubbing through the thighs, and the pressure there,” he said.

The comments sparked outrage, quickly leading to an apology from Wilson, which was posted to Lululemon’s Facebook page. “I’m sad. I’m really sad. I’m sad for the repercussions for my actions. And I’m sad for all the people from Lululemon that I care so much about that have really had to face the brunt for all my actions,” Wilson said in the apology video. “I’m sorry to have put you all through this.”

Despite his efforts to backpedal on his earlier statements on national television, Hains said she feels Wilson needs to take greater responsibility for what he said. “I think an apology, if it were sincere, would be great. In addition I think it would be a wonderful thing if they decided to make clothing inclusive of more sizes,” she said. “I think this conversation is really important, and if we can actually get their corporate attitude to change that would be terrific. In many ways, I’m a teacher, and this is a teaching moment, and the petition is there to help [start the conversation].”

As of Thursday, more than 1,300 people had signed their names in support of the initiative.

Complaints about Wilson’s comments have continued to plague the Lululemon Facebook page, even after the apology. After a recent post about a new surfing product, one person wrote: “Hey Chip, do surfer’s bodies work? I understand that some women’s bodies just don’t work, so I wanted to be sure if women surfer’s bodies work.”

Hains said on the petition page, women of all sizes have been discussing the issue surrounding body image expectations and how the media dictates what is an appropriate size for a female to be. She said comments about Wilson’s interview are not slowing down, either.

“It’s continuously increasing. This has really struck a nerve. People are really feeling strongly about this, and it’s women of all sizes,” said Hains.

ADVERTISMENT