You would have to have been living under a rock to have missed the furore caused by Nike using a plus sized mannequin in its London store. Or rather, the mannequin itself hasn’t cause as much of a furore as the article in the Telegraph by journalist Tanya Gold; Obese Mannequins are Selling Women a Dangerous Lie. In the article Gold states that ‘…the new Nike mannequin is not a size 12, which is healthy, or even 16 – a hefty weight, yes, but not one to kill a woman. She is immense, gargantuan, vase. She heaves with fat’. The vitriol gushing from this article (which also states that a woman this size wouldn’t be gearing up for a run and more likely gearing up for a hip replacement!) has made headlines with Instagrammers and Tweeters sharing their opinion on Nike’s new mannequin. I’d like to say I’d rounded up all of the comments into one place for you to read, but there’s too many! So here’s a small selection from the Internet for you to enjoy.
Paul, of @bodybycontrol, on Instagram presented both the pros and cons of the mannequin. He talks about the potential detrimental effects of normalising obesity as well as the positive impace of the inclusion of positive role models. He presents his views in a way that Tanya Gold should learn from, in a non-insulting, inflammatory way. Head to his page and read the whole caption, but I’ve included his closing thoughts here:
‘So what do I think about the Mannequin? I think it likely helps more than it harms, at least right now. Nike is a sporting company and its inclusion of the overweight should encourage more people to see themselves exercising, which is surely a good thing.’
Jessica, of @jesstaylee on Instagram, posted a picture of herself in the same pose as the mannequin with an open letter to Tanya Gold. Moving through anger and landing on sympathy, Jessica reminds her followers that Gold once wrote an article titled In Defence of Our Fatties, Let Them Eat Cake (where Gold refers to herself as a ‘self-confessed larger lady’ and claims to have been oppressed because of it. Come on Gold, pick a side and stick to it!). Again, Jessica’s open letter is a long one, so please head over for a read. My favourite bit was the following:
‘… But I am still much closer to the size of the #nikemannequin than I am to the typical one in most window displays. [SIC] This body of mine can run, can lift, can hike, can jump, and still ENJOY A DELICIOUS MEAL because I am NOT DEFINED by a number that is found on the clothes I put on my HEALTHY body.’
Megan, @bodyposipanda, visited the Nike store in London and had her picture taken with the mannequin that is said to be ‘promoting death’ and commented her surprise that the mannequin did not, in fact, try to kill her. Go read the caption, but again, my favourite bit:
‘And do you know what I noticed during my death defying encounter with a plus size piece of plastic? People of all shapes and sizes were in the store. Some bigger than the mannequin, some smaller, and every single one deserves to see themselves represented and catered for. [SIC] This is a very small step in the right direction, and the reaction to it has shown exactly how necessary it is.’
Jameela Jamil (off of TV fame, The Good Place anyone?) and founder of @I_weigh called for an apology from The Telegraph. Jameela is not one to shy away from a debate around body shaming and advocates body positivity so it’s no real surprise that she had something to say about this subject. Sharing screenshots of her Tweets on her Instagram she calls Gold a bully and a bigot. Big words. Possibly the most important bit to me:
‘Also… the idea that you people disapprove of fat people, but don’t want them to be allowed to have fitness clothing to fit their bodies to exercise in, which would surely help their health/fitness, which you cry in such despair over… exposes you for the idiots you all are.’
Natasha is a body image and mental health campaigner and this quote comes from the Fit and Fearless podcast; Beach Body Confidence. The episode isn’t about the Nike mannequin, but talking about learning to be more body positive and the concept that actually, people who are happy with their body and shape are more likely to be comfortable exercising, it’s no surprise that the mannequin came up…
‘Let’s just say that you’re the kind of person who believes that all excess fat is caused by lack of physical activity and an unhealthy lifestyle. The solution to that then is to get people active. So if Nike don’t make sportswear for people who are larger or represent that then you are perpetuating the problem because you are not allowing people to be active if they are larger. [SIC] There are an awful lot of women out there who are both fatter than me and fitter than me and I know that size is no barrier to being active’.
So it seems that for the most part the Internet is awash with people celebrating the new mannequin. Size is not an accurate indication of a person’s health; we shouldn’t assume that because someone is bigger that they aren’t healthy. There are millions of slim people who couldn’t run for a bus and have diets so bad that their internal organs are surrounded by visceral fat, they just don’t carry that fat externally. Like Natasha says, if we want to encourage larger people to exercise then surely they should be able to access sportswear to enable them to do so… it’s the most peculiar standpoint to say that sportswear in a larger size promotes obesity, surely it promotes exercise and activity for all women regardless of size?
We’re not ones to shy away from a debate over here at Force Mujer so we’d love to hear your opinion on plus size mannequins wearing sportswear!