It’s no secret that Lululemon employs a whole lot of creepy and manipulative tactics to entice people into buying their products. They’re known for instilling a scarcity mentality in shoppers and creating controversy at any opportunity. Now Huffington Post reveals that excluding plus-sized folks is “key to Lululemon’s strategy.”
In an investigative piece posted on July 31, HuffPo shows how:
the exiling of larger clothing by Lululemon is a central piece of the company’s strategy to market its brand as the look of choice for the stylishly fitness-conscious, according to former employees and consumer advocates. They say this treatment of larger clothes and customers reflects the culture that Lululemon represents — one that falsely suggests skinniness is the paramount feature of health… The company has shown reluctance to offer women’s clothes larger than size 12, choosing instead to ignore the $14 billion plus-size apparel industry and protect its brand.
Not surprisingly, Lululemon declined to comment. Also not surprising is that Lululemon is only one of many high-profile apparel brands that chooses not to offer plus-size options.
Lululemon has become a target of consumer advocates, including a petition on Change.org to pressure Lululemon to offer plus-size options. As the petition founder Cordelia Storm notes, “They’re basically saying, ‘To be healthy, to do yoga, to be a part of this manifesto, you have to look like this.'”
Huffington Post also observed the company’s mixed messages about its acceptance of all body types, particularly in a 2010 post entitled “Love Your Body” on the Lululemon blog. While the title of the post paid lip service to body acceptance, the accompanying images were of slender white women in bright Luon.
The post received many comments pointing out the contradiction. But in general, there haven’t been any boycotts or other calls for action to challenge Lululemon’s (and other major apparel brands). Such actions have minimal consequences for the company, since they’re simply excluding people who don’t shop there anyway – not its core, devoted, body-conscious and under-size-12 clientele. It’s not news that plus-sized bodies are contrary to Lululemon’s brand, lifestyle and company culture.
Within the North American yoga community, there are challenges to making the practice available and accessible to all bodies. Something as simple as not having comfortable, flattering, confidence-boosting clothes to wear to class can actually be a barrier to practice. It’s disappointing that Lululemon doesn’t see plus-sized people as capable of living healthy and active lives.
So what’s a round bodied yoga-loving person to do? Anna Guest-Jelley at Curvy Yoga has a list of brands with activewear available in plus sizes (scroll down to the bottom). Unfortunately, many of these companies don’t use ethical or sustainable business practices – but organic plus-sized yoga wear is next on the list of things to conquer.