Are you workout pants pilling? Seams stretching? Seat looking a bit too see-through? Well, it’s not the pants — it’s you. Namely, your thighs.
That’s the message from Lululemon Athletica founder Chip Wilson, who was recently interviewed about the company’s yoga pants and the women who wear them.
The Canadian company’s pants developed a cult following for their quality and apparent ability to flatter women’s butts, but drew a backlash this year when new versions were found to be too sheer. There have also been complaints about pants pilling and seams coming apart.
In this week’s interview with Bloomberg TV, Wilson acknowledged the complaints about the pants and suggested that the women experiencing the problems might be to blame.
“Frankly some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for it,” Wilson said. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.”
Wilson also said that some seatbelts and purses “won’t work” with the pants, which can cost upward of $100 each, depending on the style.
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We want to give Wilson the benefit of the doubt. It’s true that how one uses a product determines how it will hold up.
I, for one, have done sit-ups and lunges on gravel and I only had myself to blame when the fabric on the lower back and knees of my pants got scuffed up. I can’t reasonably blame the pants for not holding up. (For the record, I don’t recommend gravel workouts.)
Even Wilson’s wife, who was also being interviewed in the Bloomberg piece, chimed in to say that improper use — such as doing L-sits on a cement ground, she said — could compromise the garment.
But if that’s the point that Wilson was trying to make, he couldn’t have chosen a worse way to phrase it. To say that “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for the pants and that thighs rubbing together are the culprit is, at best, bad customer service. At worst, it’s a blatant example of body-shaming.
Intentional or not, body-shaming is still body-shaming and it’s never OK. A woman’s body is not broken because a pair of brand-new pants, from a company whose quality she previously trusted, is see-through. A woman’s body is not defective because her thighs rub together and cause fabric to pill.
Many women’s thighs touch and rub together. That’s not a judgement; it’s not “good” or “bad,” beautiful or ugly. It just is what it is.
Again, Wilson may very well have meant no ill will against his customers. He may not have intended to sound like Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries, who in 2006 said that the brand is designed for the “cool kids” and that plus-size women don’t fall in that group. (Abercrombie announced Wednesday that it will begin selling larger sizes, Reuters reports.) The Lululemon interview could all be a misunderstanding.
But, given the online reaction to Wilson’s words, which is easily Google-able if you’re so inclined, it seems like this needs to be said:
It’s not you — it’s him. It’s not your thighs — it’s the pants.