I’ts Not Us, It’s You

11 Nov
courtesy of Lululemon

courtesy of Lululemon

Last week, the founder of Lululemon caused a minor Internet stir when he placed the blame for fraying fabrics on large-thighed women. Women with thigh rub — and there are a lot of us — are familiar with the consequence called pilling. That’s where little dots of fabric pop up from too much friction. Have thick thighs, will pill. It’s a thing.

“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t work for it,” Chip Wilson, Lululemon founder and chairman.

He callously blames women for misusing his product. When asked if he thinks every woman can wear Lululemon pants, the founder says, “I think they can. I just think it’s how you use it.”

What are the different ways to wear pants? Should I place them over my head first and then try a downward dog? Should I put my arms through first before getting on the exercise bike? I just…I can’t.

Lululemon has built its brand on exclusivity. There are only a few sizes of each item in a store. Very few women will walk out with the exact same bra or pair of pants. A low inventory with high demand will drive up the cost. I get it; you gotta make money.

What I don’t get is how you expect to make money if you insult the people who want your clothes but can’t wear them. Sizes at Lululemon only go up to a 12. But it’s stretch material, so a size 14 or even a 16 could feasibly fit in a pair of yoga pants. There have been large thighs a lot longer than Lululemon. You want a particular customer, but most of your customers do not have thigh gap.

Thigh gap, for most women, is neither a realistic expectation nor is it a healthy one. You can be a size 2 with sticky thighs or you can be a size 14 with inches of space between your gams. It’s genetics. To accuse women with thigh rub of product misuse is hurtful and shameful. In doing so Chip Wilson perpetuates an unhealthy stigma on women who have no control on how they use the product but are doing it to the best of their abilities.

If Mr. Wilson had taken ownership of the faulty technology or even admitted that he hadn’t foreseen the effects friction would have on his product, I might not be so peeved. But to sit back and place blame on the woman’s body is unacceptable.

Larger women work out. Athletic wear manufacturers need to make a more durable product. I get that you want repeat customers. But can you make a pair of pants that won’t literally rip at the seams for at least a year? If I find a good pair of pants, I will happily recommend them to my friends. You know why? Because none of us likes to chafe. It hurts.

I am the owner of four items of Lululemon clothing: a sports bra, a tank top, a jacket and a pair of running shorts. I don’t use the shorts for running because of my thigh rub. They’re really short and tend to bunch in the middle, which makes me self conscious. I also have an ample posterior, so bunching only makes my short shorts look teenier. I like the other products, especially the sports bra, but I don’t think I can shop at the store anymore. The prices have always been crazy high, but I’m usually able to find items on clearance racks between seasons.

But if Lululemon doesn’t seem to want me as a customer, I’ll happily take my thunder thighs some place where they’re appreciated.

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6 Responses to “I’ts Not Us, It’s You”

  1. marketing September 28, 2014 at 5:30 am #

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the issues.
    It was truly informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  2. Beth K. November 12, 2013 at 12:32 am #

    I haven’t bought anything from them, and after I read this when it first came out – I won’t. This skinny girl has thigh rub, so their stuff apparently isn’t made for me either. I’ll stick with Brooks.

    • cicelyd November 12, 2013 at 9:18 am #

      Exactly. They don’t deserve my money.

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