Why I Agree With Chip Wilson, Founder of Lululemon

*Originally posted on November 16, 2013*

So Chip Wilson, founder of Lululemon, addressed the common complaint against Lululemon’s yoga pants: They are pilling easily and are too sheer. His comments can be found here, along with information regarding a petition that has been started to have the company make clothing for sizes 14+. Currently, Lululemon only carries up to size 12.

So here’s the thing. I don’t think the guy’s 100% right, and I don’t think that he should have said that out loud. But I also 100% disagree with Lululemon making clothing in bigger sizes. And here’s why:

We all know someone who is thin, fit and in love with their Lulus, but who doesn’t buy them anymore because they are not of the same quality that they once were. Please note, I said we all know someone who is thin and fit. Meaning, even small, petite people find Lululemon’s clothing to be pilling and perhaps more sheer than they used to be. So, on that account, Mr. Wilson, I don’t agree with you. It’s not necessarily body type that determines whether the pants pill and become sheer. He did say, however, that women wear them with seatbelts that rub and purses that rub and that that is a contributing factor in the compromise in quality of material. And that’s a whole different rant. Why are women wearing yoga pants out and about and not just to yoga? They’re called yoga pants. Stop wearing them to school, work, the grocery store, the movies, really anywhere that isn’t a fitness yoga class.

But, I digress…

It’s not just plus-sized people who find this clothing line to be of lesser quality than it used to be. So, strike one for Mr. Wilson. But, I don’t think that Lululemon needs to make clothes that fit all people, or even a wider range of people. Why? Because that’s not their target market. Lululemon provides people with very expensive athletic wear. And they are targeting the sizes that society generally views to be ‘healthy’, 0-12. 14+ is considered ‘plus-size’ and there are designated stores to buy those sizes. If Lululemon begins to sell their clothing in sizes 14+, then I want Forever Yours Lingerie to sell size 32A and XS panties. If Lululemon begins to sell size 14+ pants, I want Addition Elle to sell size 00 pants. It’s not body shaming, it’s a store selling to their target market.

Speaking of body shaming, apparently it’s not okay for stores like Lululemon to say that bigger women aren’t meant for their clothes, since people immediately assume that means that bigger is ‘bad’. But it is apparently okay for plus-sized women to post things like this and this, insinuating that thin is ‘bad’. I am inundated with these pictures on my Facebook newsfeed from plus-sized women that I am friends with who frequently post messages with this sentiment. You know what? Sometimes people are just born thin. I have friends who have shed tears over being called “disgusting”, “anorexic”, “sick”, and “unhealthy” for being the thin size that they naturally are. Or for working hard at the gym, eating lean proteins, complex carbs, and a shit ton of fruits and veggies to be as healthy as they can, just to hear from complete strangers that they look “disgusting”. Just know that it goes both ways. How do you think it makes me feel when I see posts that say that “only dogs like bones” when, because I’ve been working out and eating healthier, my hip bones have started to protrude? I’m a healthy size 6, so how do you think those posts make my healthy size 2 bestie feel, if they make me self-conscious?

And another thing about this is, I wonder how many of those size 14+ women who are pissed off about Lululemon would truly be 14+ if they used those yoga pants to go to yoga instead of to the movies? At the risk of sounding like an asshole and having everyone dislike me, I’m going to say that perhaps most 14+ women aren’t a healthy size 14. Don’t get me wrong, there are women who are a perfectly healthy BMI and whose doctors will say they are doing everything right and are a size 14+. That’s the beauty of the world – we’re all different. But how many 14+ women would drop down to a 10, 12, or even lower, with the recommended 30 minutes of cardio a day and a healthier lifestyle? I’m not pointing fingers, I’m not saying everyone who is a 0-12 works out for 30 minutes a day and eats a balanced diet. Lord knows I eat my fair share of pizza, chocolate, and french fries. But I don’t blame society or clothing lines for the clothes that I cannot fit into or that don’t look good on me. When I try on clothes at Garage and they stretch to the point of picture distortion on the t-shirt, that’s not the store’s fault. I don’t get mad. I either a) go somewhere else to buy clothes or b) go for a run and then go somewhere else to buy clothes. You might be saying to yourself, “But, Garage is targeted more toward teens. Younger teens, even.” My point exactly.

Lululemon doesn’t need to make sure they appeal to every person. Maybe they shouldn’t be publicly saying that larger women shouldn’t wear their clothes, but an athletic clothing company shouldn’t be made to feel bad for their target market being athletic body types, aka what society has deemed to be “healthy” size 0-12. If a store’s clothes don’t fit you, there are a ton of other stores with clothes that will fit you. You just need to find what that is and understand that not every product is for every person. And that is okay.


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