By CHRISTINE PEAT
Published: December 17, 2013
With the holiday season in full swing, the perennial resolutions to “get in shape” and “shed those holiday pounds” are surely right around the corner. Every year women and men alike lament their “poor choices” during holiday parties and family gatherings, and they are quick to jump into fitness routines guaranteed to ready them for warmer weather and the skin baring clothing that those temperatures seem to bring. Normally this type of both psychologically and physically grueling regimen is hard enough for most folks, but this year Chip Wilson, the founder of the Canadian brand Lululemon Athletica, is making things just that much more difficult. In March, the sportswear brand came under fire for what was initially deemed “a design mistake” in a signature pair of their leggings. Nearly 17% of their leggings were recalled as there were significant complaints about the material being too sheer or pilling easily. Wilson and his wife (a co-founder of the company) were interviewed on Bloomberg TV in November to discuss the recall of their leggings. During this interview Mr. Wilson asserted that, “…quite frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for [the leggings].” Thus, rather than admitting that his company had perhaps made an error with the design of their fabric, Wilson found error with the bodies of the very women who bought them. The company has since received significant backlash by consumers and the yoga community at large. In fact, their sales are down 12% in comparison to this time last year, and the media storm regarding Wilson’s irresponsible comment has been raging. Unfortunately, the comments made by the CEO only seem to add to the culture of “fat-shaming” with which the brand has become increasingly associated. Recently, he issued an apology (of sorts) on Youtube. Here, too, Wilson seems to have missed the mark as he essentially only apologizes that his actions hurt Lululemon. He failed to actually take responsibility for the negligence of his comments not on his company, but on the women who supported it.
Ultimately, Wilson has now stepped down as Chairman of the Board for Lululemon, but surely his comments will not soon be forgotten. However, it is important to remember that the strength of a collective voice is more powerful than any one person’s ignorance. Wilson’s (and countless others’) sentiments do not have to be a reflection of reality. Rather, fitness can be enjoyed by all persons regardless of shape, weight, or age. In fact, our very own Chrysecolla Taico, MSW, LCSW is inspiring those in the Triangle to embrace fitness and movement in her yoga classes including: Curvy Yoga, Body Kindness Yoga, and Yoga for Every[body]. Classes like these remind us that fitness is not determined by the size (or brand!) of clothing you wear or by the intensity of your workouts. True fitness focuses on health and the ability to live and enjoy your life to the fullest. So after the rush and excitement of the holiday season has passed, don’t focus on “fitness” resolutions and goals that may only damper your self-esteem. Instead, celebrate all that your body allows you to do: laughing, walking, dancing … and occasionally shopping for a new pair of leggings.