Last week my post on tights not being pants, quite unexpectedly, went viral. It included a photo that I took of a woman wearing a pair of tights as pants and an “Am I wearing pants?” flow chart, that I had not hand in creating, that speaks to the nature of leggings and how they should be worn. Not only was I shocked when this this post went viral, getting more hits in a day than my blog got all of last month, but was even more shocked by the comments some people posted, telling me things like my post was slut-shaming, un-Christ-like (P.S. I am a long lapsed Catholic and don’t consider myself a Christian), and that I had no right to tell people what to wear. Seeing that my post simply advised that a pair of tights aren’t pants and the woman I saw wearing them as such was walking around half naked, I was surprised by these types reactions. Of course, others totally got my point and saw the humor in what I wrote.
The viral nature of this tights are not pants post that I wrote has now tempered, yet the conversation of see through leggings, yoga pants and tights continues to be a hot topic. After Lululemon’s horrific PR blunder when the company’s founder, Chip Wilson, was asked on Bloomberg TV to address the technical fabric mistakes found in their popular yoga pants that caused pilling and sheerness saying that Lululemon pants don’t work for some women’s bodies, there has been a tremendous backlash and the feeling that Chris Wilson’s comments were fat-shaming and trying to push one body form. Since then Chip Wilson has offered an apology on YouTube and the company’s Facebook page, which fell flat with women. I have to agree, the apology was pretty useless.
Yet, having personally watched the Bloomberg TV interview numerous times (especially now that I am forever associated with my thoughts on tights and leggings) and reading a few articles about this Lululemon PR nightmare, I am having a hard time understanding why his comments were blown so far out of proportion and why women are so upset over what he said.
Let me be clear on where I personally stand with Lululemon. The company lost me as a customer several years ago when I went in to purchase a sportsbra. As an avid Bikram yoga practitioner at the time I had been a pretty loyal customer, purchasing their shorts for their wickability and the fact that I could sweat profusely during a 90 minute bikram class and feel less disgusting. However, having a naturally large chest I was totally bummed out when the store only had one sportsbra style at the time that actually fit my 34G chest. It was an ugly style called the Ta-Ta Tamer that came in black and maybe one other putrid color and was completely of of the norm from their other happy, bright and cool styles. Out of desperation, I purchased the sportsbra and wore it. Even though I took care of it properly, and followed the care instructions on the label, the clasps of the sportsbra rusted and fell off after only a few wears. It seems I’m not the only one who had this problem. So not only was Lululemon unable to service me as a customer because of my body shape but they sold me a mediocre product. I have never been in a Lululemon since and I refuse to shop there. But did I take it personally that the clothing wasn’t right for my body? No. Sure, I was frustrated that the company seemed to neglect my body but they certainly weren’t the first clothing company to do this to me. Side note: One day I am going to create a sportsbra company for women with large chests.
Even though my chest is way too big to be able to wear Lululemon’s sportsbras, along with many of their other tops, I still have a hard time understanding why everyone is so up in arms about this whole see-through yoga pants controversy. In fact, given my experience, I wasn’t so much offended by Chip Wilson’s comment that the yoga pants don’t work for some women’s bodies as I was when he said “even our small sizes would fit an extra large.” This seemed like more of an outrageous claim and a total lie more worthy of calling him out for saying. How is this remotely possible?
However, I think part of the outrage has been caused by the expectation of the clothing. Quotes from women in a Chicago Tribune article about these pants had me a little surprised and made me wonder just how fragile the egos of most women are when a company offers clothing that may not work for their bodies. Have we really put our self esteem so deeply in the hands of companies that manufacture clothes?
In addition, watching the entire interview, what Chip Wilson said about the pants was that some women don’t wear them properly, saying that the rubbing of seat belts and handbags could be part of what is causing the pilling problem, in addition to thigh rubbing and saying that the see-through nature of the fabric can be caused by pressure. Having naturally large thighs, in addition to a naturally large chest, I really didn’t take offense to the comment like some women did. There are a lot of things I can’t wear well because of my body shape and many brands whose pants don’t fit me because of how I am built. I don’t take it personally and if I can’t wear a pair of Lululemon pants because my bulbous thighs, well, I’ll just go and spend my money somewhere else. It’s that easy.
What about you? Were you offended by the Lululemon see-through yoga pants controversy?