By Allison Ashley
Customers take offense to companies’ description of desirable, yet unrealistic, clientele, causing extremely popular stores to lose business from their most loyal buyers: teenage girls.
A girl can be spotted wearing Lululemon yoga pants from a mile away. Usually found in black and either cropped, tucked into boots, or boot cut with the famous Lululemon logo, a silver circle with a horseshoe shape in the middle, right below the left inside knee; they flatter everyone’s body.
The spandex pants with a colorful band around the waist are worn not just for exercising but as everyday pants and have become increasingly popular with teenage girls at school.
Last year, the company faced some trouble when they received complaints that they were making the yoga pants with material that was see-through. Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon, allowed full refunds for anyone who was unhappy with their revealing, $100-plus exercise pants. This recall cost the company more than $57 million.
“There has always been pilling. The thing is that women will wear seat belts that don’t work or they’ll wear a purse that doesn’t work or, quite frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t work for it [the clothing],” said Chip Wilson in an interview on TV in early November.
The statement was in response to women who were unhappy with their yoga pants’ pilling fabric in the upper thighs as a result of chafing.
Wilson said, “They don’t work for some women’s bodies.”
Is the CEO shaming women for not having their idea of an ideal body shape: non-touching thighs? This is sending a strong message about body image to teenage girls, who are valuable customers of this store.
“I agree that it is definitely giving young girls the wrong idea about their bodies,” said senior Lucy Donaldson. “I studied the thigh gap for an essay at school and learned it is unhealthy for people to have a thigh gap because they aren’t getting the nutrition they need, which is weakening the bones in their legs.”
“I think that the only real problem is the way that he worded his answers to the questions and that he was too candid about the thighs rubbing together,” said senior KT Buckler. “Personally, I don’t think that this is extreme enough for me to abandon my Lululemons entirely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some people began to boycott the stores.”
Is Wilson’s negative comment an accurate portrayal of the company, even though many other clothing stores are doing the same thing? Lululemon is not unlike many other companies that cater to the average customer’s size, whether or not they have come out publicly with their intentions.
The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, Mike Jeffries, released a statement concerning the exclusionary factor of their clothes. Jeffries stated, “We hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”
Jefferies concluded, “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong.”
KT Buckler said, “They [Lululemon] don’t make their yoga pants for women with especially large thighs or whatever for the same reason that they don’t make a zero–it’s an ‘abnormality’ of sorts and they’re trying to cater to what the masses need and want.”
It is companies like these, with public discrimination against certain body shapes, that potentially damage teenage girls’ self-esteem and encourage them to be unhappy with the way they look if they are unable to fit into an impossible mold.