Editor’s Note: this post was originally published on November 8, 2013.
In today’s episode of “Who’s In the Hot Seat”, let us turn our attention to LuLuLemon, designer of active wear for (almost) every woman. People are getting their yoga pants in a bunch over co-founder Chip Wilson’s comment that the clothing line “doesn’t work for all sizes of women”. He said this during a televised interview in which he addressed complaints that the fabric in their pants tends to thin and pill after repeated use. And, to add insult to injury in the case of some heftier sun-salutationers, stretches to the point of becoming translucent. After he made this comment, women like me from around the globe dropped their Big Macs and marched on Wilson’s corporate headquarters, demanding an apology and a side of fries.
Okay, so it wasn’t exactly PC of him. But, newsflash: there are other things that don’t work for many women, including, bikinis, miniskirts and lickable foam fingers. Get over it. Those of us who make a habit of stretching our clothes to the point they are expelled from our bodies like exploding devices know better than to fool with Mother Physics.
I am not offended by his statement because I know he speaks the truth. In all fairness, it’s not just LuLuLemon that turns a hairy eyeball on women of substance. So do most clothing designers. Just ask any woman who is relegated to shopping behind the almighty “XL” marker, and she will tell you that clothing simply isn’t designed to fit our curves and post-baby bulges (okay, so my baby just turned 14. Sue me.) And on the off chance you do find a shirt that fits, it’s guaranteed to look like Jackson Pollock took a paint brush to a patio chair cover, then threw a handful of rhinestones at it.
I’m not casting aspersions on Mr. Wilson, nor am I defending him or promoting his product. But he just vocalized what Sisterhood of the Disappearing Pants has known for a long time – the fashion industry hates anyone who is not shaped like a ten year old boy. And I intend to use his statements and those of a former LuLu employee as expert testimony to prove our theory of the existence of a massive conspiracy against curvy women.
To prove my point, let me introduce into evidence a July 2013 Huff Post article in which a former LuLuLemon employee admitted to the conspiratorial tactics of the company. According to her account, the “largest sizes” – which are defined as (gulp!) size 10s and 12s – are harbored in the very back of the store, rarely restocked, and include only the old designs that a gaggle of perky, meal-skipping size triple 0s wouldn’t be caught dead in.
Wait…what? Size 10 is considered a “larger size”? By whose terms – a clique of tiny mean teenage girls with low self-esteem and a distorted sense of social ranking? Because – Tsk! Tsk! – this sounds a bit like female bullying to me, suggesting it’s okay to treat people of certain sizes like second class citizens and make them walk farther to find their sizes. I know we need the exercise, but that’s beside the point.
The employee further explained the company consciously brands its clothing for only “the stylishly fitness-conscious”, suggesting only people who are size 8 or less can be labeled as fashionable, healthy and physically capable of signing up for a yoga class.
But it’s not just LuLu that promotes such discrimination, as they are apparently part of a larger, uglier retail street gang intent upon reinforcing the message that only certain sized women are considered worthy of their designer clothing. Using this reasoning, if you are over size 10 you are not welcome to hang with this crowd – I guess out of fear you will be seen as a giant billboard for their clothing. And we can’t have that. You can’t be seen trying to help the arguably unhealthiest Americans trying to get healthy. What would that say about you as a company?
Get this – contrary to the fat-fearing fashion industry’s belief that catering to larger people isn’t worth their time or money, a 2011 report from Women’s Wear Daily reports the average dress size among American women is a fourteen.
Did you hear that, people? The AVERAGE size is FOURTEEEN! That means ROUGHLY HALF of the female population is LARGER THAN A SIZE FOURTEEN! Women are the primary consumers in most American families and that means, in the interest of upholding a silly image, these snobbish retailers are robbing themselves of half of the income they could be making. One report estimates consumers this year are expected to spend over $300 million on athletic wear sold at plus-size women’s clothing stores. Which means the people who are going to be spending this ridiculous amount of money on athletic wear in such establishments are FAT PEOPLE – ya know, the ones for whom you don’t want to make clothing. And we know this because no self-proclaimed skinny bitch is going to risk her reputation and social rank by stepping foot anywhere near these plus-size stores for fear she will be bound, gagged and forced to eat quarter pounders by a gang of retaliatory big girls.
I, for one, will not be shopping at LuLuLemon for yoga pants or anything for that matter, and not just because I can’t fit into their selective sizing. And it’s not because I’m afraid I’m going to bend over and have the shrapnel of my exploding active wear taking out the eyes of my fellow yoga mates, or that my “Downward Dog” is likely to result in a case of mistaken identity – “Saint Bernard in need of immediate veterinarian care”.
You see, the real reason I won’t shop there – or, hell, do yoga at all – is because I have better things to do with my time than roll around on a mat in public like a walrus trying to heave itself into the icy Arctic. Wilson was spot on when he alluded to the fact that not all women are intended to prance about in skin-tight thin fabric, and I’m good with that. If I want every square inch of my cellulite to be shown to the world, I’ll just simply forego pants altogether. Trust me – that would be the more visibly appealing option, as adding flimsy material to the mix only causes me to look as if I’ve shoved bags of candy corn down my pants and filled in the gaps with cottage cheese.
As ticked off as I am at the fashion industry right now, I must also admit to feeling somewhat justified upon learning this suspected conspiracy is real. After spending much of my adult life catapulting myself from stores like a puffed up angry bird upon discovering they didn’t carry my size, I realize I’m not the only recipient of this targeted maltreatment.
But, interestingly, one thing I seem to have no problem finding are racks of 0s and 00s. Now, I’m no mathematician, but I was taught 0 means nothing, so I’m not sure why the fashion industry was compelled to add a non-number to the size chart. What the hell does that even mean if you wear a size 0, you’re non-existent? I suppose 00s are they black holes of the fashion universe, sucking everything around them into oblivion? Bitch, please.
Even those stores that do carry larger clothing sizes are at fault for perpetrating discriminatory size-ism. Look at how they label the sections of clothing. There is the “Ladies” section, conjuring an image of tea-sipping skinny women with southern accents and extended pinkies. Naturally, retailers want to cater to these sweet things because “Ladies” have important things to do like play tennis and host open houses. Meanwhile, over in the “Women’s” section (a quaint derivation on the original name, “Whoa, Man! What the hell?”), scores of roly-poly women are frantically waddling around in search of an item that doesn’t look as if it was haphazardly sewn by drunk clothing designers who a). ripped down and repurposed custom window treatments from the 90’s; b). found the Vera Bradley reject pile after even they had to agree that some fabrics are just too damn crazy-assed-busy to be worn by a human who wants to be taken seriously; or c). came up with something so drab and shapeless shoppers would do better to just throw on a trash bag, hang a black rectangle on their faces and go find work as a Cosmopolitan “Fashion Don’t”.
Ironically, the next report to air on Bloomberg TV after the LuLuLemon interview was that sales at department stores such as JCP are on an upward trend. That’s because these stores don’t care if fat, Auntie Anne pretzel-eating shoppers like myself shuffle through their doors in search of clothing that makes them look like respectable, employable adults. Throngs of real American women whose sizes have rendered them irrelevant in the teeny fashion boutique world are stampeding to the nearest JCP for much needed coverage. They are tired of their boobies bursting out of so-called “XL” tops, injuring unsuspecting bystanders with projectile buttons. They are evaporating right through their thinning yoga pants, climbing out from under multi-colored muumuus and are in search of clothing that not only fits, but looks good. Because – surprise! There are some days when fat women really don’t want to draw attention to themselves by wearing clothing that’s hideous and alarming. Some days they just want to wear a simple solid-colored shirt just like their skinny, pre-pubescent-looking friends do. They are not bad people, just bad dieters who nonetheless wish to be taken as seriously and as sexily as their “Lady” friends. And who would very much like to not look like perpetual, oversized, Garanimal-wearing toddlers with bedazzled wildlife emblazoned on their fronts. Don’t believe me? Just wander into a “Whoa, Man’s” section next time you’re in a department store. Just bring sunglasses, ’cause when those sequins catch the light, they’re likely to burn you retinas.
To conclude the interview, Wilson stated he does believe every woman can wear LuLuLemon pants – it just depends on how they use it. I think that means we can buy the pants, as long as we don’t actually use them as pants. However, if used as a scarf, a belt or even a weapon of mass destruction, we should be just fine.
So the next time a size 0 whines to you that she’s getting fat, you have my permission to take that yoga pant, make it into a sling shot, and fling a Big Mac at her.
Copyright 2013 Bla Bla Blog