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Lululemon Founder Blames Product Performance on Plus-Size Women’s Thighs

Posted by on November 12, 2013

While size discrimination amongst mainstream retailers certainly isn’t new, it always takes me by surprise whenever a company comes out as specifically and definitely against plus-size women.

I feel like I should know better by this point, since we’re living in a post Mike Jeffries world, where fat customers are automatically categorized as uncool and undesirable, and yet when I saw the Bloomberg TV interview in which Lululemon founder Chip Wilson blamed women’s meaty thighs for ruining his fancy yoga pants, my jaw actually dropped.

Here's a screenshot of Lululemon founders Chip and Sharon Wilson during their disastrous Bloomberg TV Interview. Credit: Bloomberg TV

Here’s a screenshot of Lululemon founders Chip and Sharon Wilson during their disastrous Bloomberg TV Interview. Credit: Bloomberg TV

“Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for it,” were Wilson’s exact words. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.”

Lately, there has been a slew of quality complaints about Lululemon’s $100 sweat pants, specifically about how the crotches keep giving out, and there was actually a recall earlier this year when some pants were accidentally made sheer.

Personally, I still workout in my old college sweats (even though there are some great plus-size options for work-out clothes), so I have never been a victim to these crappy pants, but if I spend $100 on any article of clothing, I expect it to hold up. Even if my thighs rub together.

Lululemon yoga pants

Here are $200 worth of Lululemon yoga pants. Credit: Instagram/rx_xo

After this thoroughly stupid comment, the reporter, Trish Regan, said, “Interesting, so not every woman can wear a Lululemon yoga pant.” Wilson was quick to shoot her down. “No, I think they can,” he said. “I think it’s just how you use them.”

Just so you know ladies, Wilson recommends not wearing a seatbelt or carrying a purse, in addition to not allowing your thighs to touch, if you want your Lululemon pants to hold up and prevent pilling.

Bloomberg Businessweek pointed out that this might not have been the best move on Lululemon’s part, since as an activewear company, it’s in their best interest to market to anyone who wants to work out.

“Such strategy does have the obvious drawback: 35 percent of U.S. adults are obese,” writes Kyle Stock on Businessweek.com. “One would think a $10.1 billion company ostensibly devoted to health and fitness could find a way to inspire that market, or at least not insult it outright.”

Plus-size workout clothes can look great.

Here’s CeCe of ‘The Big Girl Blog’ looking awesome in some plus-size activewear – it can be done, Lululemon! Credit: The Big Girl Blog

Now, Lululemon is under no obligation to make plus-size clothes, and frankly, no company actually needs to make plus-size clothes (even though they should). Not even Abercrombie’s awful Mike Jeffries technically needs to expand his mind or his line. However, Abercrombie announced in early November that they will be “expanding sizes, colors, and fits” after reporting its seventh straight quarterly drop in same-store sales, post-Jeffries scandal.

The most offensive part of Wilson’s interview is his claim that women’s bodies are to blame for not properly fitting into his pants, instead of the other way around.

Lesley on XOJane said it best: “The problematic bit is the suggestion that bodies ought to fit their clothes, and not the other way around, because this backwards logic only further contributes to the vast array of body issues so many women already face, and the lowered self-esteem these issues can create. I would much rather Chip Wilson said, ‘Correct, our pants won’t work for everyone,’ because that’s the honest truth, rather than insist that the pants are blameless and that their wearers are the problem.”

How do you feel about the interview? Do you think that Wilson was out of line? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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