When plus-sized mannequins hit the floor of Nike’s London flagship store, many viewed it as an important step in inclusivity for a major activewear brand. But The Telegraph’s Tanya Gold begged to differ. In a contentious opinion piece titled, “Obese mannequins are selling women a dangerous lie,” she attacked the concept.
“She is immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat,” Gold wrote in the op-ed. “She is, in every measure, obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to hip replacement.”
Nike says it introduced the plus-sized mannequin as way to “celebrate the diversity and inclusion of sport,” but Gold rejects that — claiming the “obese Nike athlete” is a fabrication and an advertising scheme. “The fat-acceptance movement... is no friend to women, even if it does seem to have found a friend in Nike,” Gold writes. “It may, instead, kill them, and that is rather worse than feeling sad.”
Not long after Gold’s editorial was published, prominent body positive activists came forward to dispute her claims. “This is fatphobia, shaming other people’s bodies and passing judgement on their health,” British plus-sized model and body positive activist Iskra Lawrence wrote on Instagram. “All bodies deserve representation, inclusion and to know they are worthy of being loved and taken care of.”
Tanya Gold: 'The new mannequin is obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement. What terrible cynicism is this on the part of #Nike?' https://t.co/51VmvUCxLE
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) June 9, 2019
Lawrence, an Aerie REAL model, continued to take down Gold’s comments.
“How dare you try and disallow other humans from being represented, Everyone has the right to look after their bodies regardless of the size they wear or where their current fitness level or health is,” she wrote. “Shaming and exclusion makes it so much harder for anyone to look after themselves or guess what, have flippin gym clothes to even go and move their bodies. Seeing a mannequin, having access to clothing in your size encourages inclusion and promotes diverse bodies taking part in fitness.”
Katie Sturino, the influencer behind body positive blog, The 12ish Style, discredited the article too, saying it is “full of hate and inaccurate information.” Contrary to the opinion presented by Gold, Sturino says she is a healthy “non pre-diabetic size 18 woman that has always been big.”
American feminist author Roxanne Gay also joined the chorus of body positive voices, challenging the idea that “fat” people don’t work out. “I work out six days a week. I am fat,” Gay tweeted. “I wear workout clothes while working out. The world continues to turn. Shut up.”
Meanwhile, The Good Place actress and activist Jameela Jamil, demanded a “big public apology” from the British publication, calling the piece “fatphobic, pointless, bigoted abuse.”
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
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) June 11, 2019
Although The Telegraph has yet to issue a formal apology for publishing the controversial piece, the British newspaper later published another op-ed that called the new Nike plus-sized models “inspiring.”
“Too often women are put off from exercising by a fear of judgement,” wrote another Telegraph contributor Rebecca Reid. “It’s why I was so encouraged to see that Nike have started making sports clothes up to size 32.”
'Too often women are put off from exercising by a fear of judgement. It’s why I was so encouraged to see that Nike have started making sports clothes up to size 32' @RebeccaCNReid writeshttps://t.co/lO6iNWRmEE
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) June 11, 2019
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