Why The Plus-Size Gym Wear Is Causing Controversy

Cynical people live alongside positive people, they are the yin to our yang, however, at times like this, our differences show. The simple act of creating a plus-sized mannequin to display Nike’s plus-size gym wear in London has sparked controversy online. Originating in the harsh article by Tanya Gold on the Telegraph. 

Not only was there backlash everywhere on the media to what was claimed by Gold, but an opposing article was written on the Telegraph itself the following day to try and smooth over any hurt caused. 

So what was the controversy? How could plus-size gym wear cause an online debate? It’s just gym wear after all. 

‘Obese Mannequins Are Selling Women A Dangerous Lie’

This was the title to Gold’s article, published June 10 2019 after Nike released their new mannequin in it’s London store. 

The ‘dangerous lie’ she talks about is that being encouraged to love your body no matter the size is dangerous to your health. 

In her own words ‘fat-acceptance is an artifice of denial’, to accept obesity is to ignore that it is a problem, that the aim is to lose weight and not accept it. 

If you break down what she says there is a logical argument, however, the way that she words her entire article comes across as fat-shaming Nike and any girl that buys into it.

Gold admits to being previously obese, but has been losing weight since, perhaps this is why she feels like she can talk in this way.

Her most outrageous comment came as:

“…the new Nike mannequin is not size 12, which is healthy, or even 16 – a hefty weight, yes, but not one to kill a woman. She is immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat… She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”

But you can see the mannequin talked about above, it is far from ‘immense, gargantuan, vast.’ The body is average in my opinion of those that come to the gym because those are women that are trying to improve themselves. 

And as for saying a woman this size cannot run, a woman took to Twitter to prove her wrong, saying she is the same size as the mannequin and had just finished a 10k run. 

The issue that Gold seems to have overlooked is that a woman wearing plus-size gym wear, in most cases, is wearing them to achieve a healthier body. But they need clothes that fit and flatter them to be confident in themselves to go to the gym in the first place. 

It is an intimating place to walk through, the gym. It’s the place of ‘perfect’ bodies. And every time I myself have walked through the gym, I have always been self-conscious of how my thighs wobble as I walk. 

But the more time I spend there, the more I realise no one is actually watching you or cares about what you look like in the gym. You are there with the same intention as them, to improve your body. We all hold the same respect for each other that we have the dedication to do this. 

Exercise isn’t just for thin people

The article posted by The Telegraph the next day gave the complete opposite view and told of the positives the mannequin had to women. Not just the mannequin but the increasing range of plus-size gym wear that is available. 

She points to gym clothes lines such as Livi and Torrid. 

Gym wear based companies are expanding because they realise the market is predominantly for the bigger girl. So it would be crazy to isolate those woman from their range. 

Nike said that the mannequin and their plus-size range was an attempt to bring body positivity and inclusivity to all. 

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That was the aim, and it was achieved with the majority of the public, if we exclude the article by Gold. 

Nike has done a better job than most companies at body positivity, others advertising their plus-size gym wear have caused more outrage than Nike’s mannequin. 

The Right Curves

The issue that other gym clothes companies have failed on is seeing that plus-size doesn’t mean a bigger hour-glass figure. 

Athleta received backlash after using models that were a size 12/14 to advertise its’ plus-size gym wear collection. 

This kind of advertisement goes against all that Nike was trying to achieve with its mannequin. Body positivity for plus-size women is lost when a company doesn’t allow for realistic figures of an average wearer of the brand to be seen. 

This is a problem when you have companies selling that there is a right kind of curvy, a right type of plus size. And if you don’t fit within that, you are body shamed again. 

So if we want to move forwards, we need to include all types of body shapes, it’s not just the big hips and small waist models we want to see advertising the plus-size gym wear. We actually want to see plus-size women wearing them.

No more hiding. 

Own the bodies and have confidence. But as Gold failed to argue, don’t let it be an excuse to stay at an unhealthy weight. Aim to get yourself healthy and happy, using these clothes to get you there.

Comment below what you think about the plus size mannequin and the thoughts put forward by Tanya Gold. Do you agree?

Featured Image Source: https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/nikes-plus-size-mannequin-fat-shaming
Bethany Scard

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