Lululemon Goes Big
By Andy Dworkin
PlannedMan

The trend of women’s clothing companies to “celebrate” obesity does no one any good—least of all, its intended beneficiaries.

Lululemon Goes Big
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Highlights


You’ll find some very large women in athletic gear on Lululemon’s website.

Men are different. Fat guys don’t celebrate being fat. They try and hide it

What very large readers are supposed to feel is not motivated to action but good about themselves—proud—as they sit on the couch, in Lululemon’s...

Obesity is life threatening...no matter how high-flying and principled-sounding the rhetoric.

The issue of obesity is tough to address—always sensitive and now political.

Well, maybe not so much for men. You don’t meet many guys who claim to be proud of their enormous guts and triple chins. You don’t see plus-sized male models in catalogues for Lands’ End, L.L. Bean, Patagonia, Helly Hansen or North Face. Those companies have never once asked any fat guy to put on one of their flannel shirts or seven-pocket shorts.

How come? Fat guys don’t celebrate being fat. They try and hide it—usually unsuccessfully. Still, they try (as a favor to the world). A guy like Meatloaf always performed fully dressed; even as a rock star, it was the only way he’d get laid. No less than the great Pavarotti would only go to the beach, wearing a pup tent with sleeves.

Take a look at a recent, two-page spread in Lululemon’s catalogue, on the other hand. You’ll find some very large women in athletic gear, happily running, cycling, swimming and doing yoga.

Why not go with models who look like they might’ve been on an athletic field and actually enjoy rock climbing, rather than apparent, competitive eaters squeezed into clothing eight sizes too small?

Anyone out there think such images actually get plus-sized readers off the couch, to the gym or nearest swimming pool?

Wrong questions obviously. The images are inspirational. What very large readers are supposed to feel is not motivated to action but good about themselves—proud—as they sit on the couch, in Lululemon’s exercise leotards.

This is not to knock big women. Lots of men love hefty ladies, and fortunately magazines like FabUplus and Plush XL cater to them—as well as (now) catalogues like Lululemon’s.

But this is part of a bigger, even more insidious problem. Fat women have taken on full membership in victim culture. To be sure, this has certain superficial benefits. When a fat guy asks for two seatbelts, on the flight home to Memphis, he knows the woman in the next seat will tell her friends how traumatizing it was to be beside him; while a fat woman gets the same two belts, priority boarding, special snacks, plus someone outside the lavatory in case there are issues with the door closing.

Yet is anyone really kidding anyone? The message—whatever shape one’s body is in is fine; it is “shaming” to suggest otherwise—is what it has always been: a crock. It’s tragic, because obesity is life threatening. It is lunacy to normalize, no matter how high-flying and principled-sounding the rhetoric.

However, like so much common sense these days, that’s not allowed to be said.

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