This morning, I stumbled upon an article critiquing the release of Nike plus size mannequins in the famous sports gear’s flagship London store. This seemingly positive step in the right direction for diversity in Nike’s sizing choices, turned into another “war on obesity” debate.
Columnist Tanya Gold, from the UK based news outlet, The Telegraph, launched into a tirade condemning the mannequin and its symbolism as an endorsement of unhealthy living.
The article goes on to list all the reasons why this mannequin is a celebration of fat, unhealthy lifestyles in our society. And I don’t know what medical school Tanya Gold graduated from, but apparently she can diagnose medical conditions simply from body type.
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?Tanya Gold, The Telegraph
Reading those words shocked me, especially because I think I may be the same size or slightly bigger than the mannequin pictured. And I don’t fit into any of the categories she listed. I have run multiple 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons. I am not pre-diabetic. And my hips are pretty flexible if I do say so myself.
My first half marathon was the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC.
And while I don’t determine my worth based on some ignorant words from a news column created to be click-bait, I can see how discouraging this type of talk could be to others who are genuinely excited for designer gear in their size.
I’m Glad to See the Nike Plus Size Mannequins
Usually, I try to keep cool when it comes to social media arguments, but this plus size debate never dies. As someone who enjoys working out, I struggle to find high quality gear that fits right. And while I may cringe at shelling out $60 for a high impact support bra, I can rest easy knowing my chest won’t hurt when I finish working out.
I’m not the only one defending Nike and applauding their approach to sizing diversity in their workout gear. TheCURVYcon co-founder Cece Olisa gave an outstanding take on the issue on her blog post, “The Truth About Nike Plus Size Mannequins“. Not to mention, she wrote this post while working WITH Nike in Paris for the Women’s World Cup.
When a plus size Nike mannequin shows up in a store, it’s not an accident. There are so many people at Nike corporate who had to approve the size, shape and use of that body type in a Nike store. Nike could have said no to the idea of strong plus size representation in their stores… instead, they said yes.Cece Olisa, Nike Dream Leader and Co-Founder of theCURVYcon
My Struggle with Body Positivity
When I was younger, I used to tell myself I would love my body when I got to a certain weight on the scale. But when I hit that goal, I still found something to hate about myself. So I would pick another goal and strive for that.
I had to learn the hard way that my thoughts were unhealthy. No amount of weight loss would change that. I wouldn’t ever love my body if I didn’t love how I looked in every stage of life.
So I started looking at myself in a full length mirror, naked, everyday. I would touch each place in my body that I didn’t like, and I would thank that body part for what it does for me.
“Thank you thighs, for helping me walk.”
“Thank you stomach, for protecting my organs.”
“Thank you arms, for helping me reach and carry things.”
“Thank you stretch marks, for making space in my body to carry my son.”
It started out feeling weird and awkward, but this ritual changed my whole mindset about my body. And I realized I couldn’t workout or lift weights without supportive workout gear. So I stopped waiting for “the perfect weight” to buy high quality apparel; I invested in myself and my plus size body.
And you know what? That positive investment led to training for and participating in two half marathons, four 10K runs, six 5K runs, and countless other high activity events. I am proud to have a mannequin in a store that looks like me and represents my fitness journey. And I don’t feel bad or ashamed or insecure about any of it.
What are your thoughts on plus size recognition in the fitness world?