For those of you who have worn Lululemon pants you are aware of how easily they pill. Last week Denis Wilson, Lululemon Athletics’ founder, responded to massive customer complaints about the pilling in an interview. Unfortunately, Wilson explained this apparent issue with the company’s legendary stretchy pants, by projecting the problem onto women themselves; he claimed his pants are not made for women whose thighs rub together. This is not the first spotlight Lululemon has received in result to Wilson’s comments, in 2005 he said “if I was going to make plus size sizes I would have to use 30% more fabric and would have to charge 30% more,” putting the average price of the yoga pants at 156$. The fetishization of women’s bodies and the “thigh gap” is one reasons why Thin Thighs in Thirty Days, released in 1982 still sells, and why companies like Lululemon construct women’s bodies as embodiments of self-worth.
Lululemon ambassador Natile Petrzelsa is a professor who specializes in gender in American culture, and who discussed the event in Why This Lululemon Scandal Is Different. Petrzelsa argues
Wilson didn’t just dismiss as unworthy consumers an entire group of women whose bodies don’t conform to his ideal, he did it with galling insensitivity: by honing in on one of the most fraught areas of women’s bodies
I agree with Petrezelsa, Wilson’s comments perpetuate the association of average and large bodies with moral qualities such as laziness and mediocrity.
Lululemon has made efforts to mend their reputation, they have sponsored events concerning health and women’s relationship with their bodies within clothes, such as HealthClass2.0 and Sati Life. However, despite Lululemon’s efforts Wilson’s actions continually reduce women to their body parts and promotes impossible and contradictory standards; a tendency that seems to consume the majority of todays companies.