Crossing Lululemon off the list…


Today as my daughdisplaymedia.ashxter was discussing with me (again) about what she wanted for Chanuka, one of the things she thought she’d like was a pair of black Lululemon leggings, which have been popular with the middle schoolers and tweens in her life. And though I have in the past thought about letting her save up for those ridiculously overpriced leggings, pants that I also love and own, I’m thinking twice and more about letting her purchase a pair.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Lululemon’s co-founder, Chip Wilson’s comments about the flaw in his company’s “technology product” being more about women’s thighs than the fabric, his cockamamie theories connecting working moms to breast cancer and his use of Ayn Rand’s theory of Objectivism to sell yoga pants.

He obviously does not understand his customers and audience and both his apology, which was more directed to his company than the customers he offended, and his wife/co-founder’s glare during the Bloomberg interview do a little to soften the blow, but certainly not enough.

What Wilson’s comments have done is make customers think twice about their purchase of his products.

Yes, these pants have been banned at our middle school as inappropriate unless girls wear long enough shirts with them.  And yes, I’ve heard the chatter from the kids that wearing these pants introduces girls to undergarments they’re much too young for to avoid panty lines. These are things to talk about.

But these are conversations many parents have with their girls. And ultimately, because the clothing is used for athletics and physical activities, there is a message of health and wellness that Lululemon and other brands seem to try to support in their apparel. Tight athletic clothing is actually preferred for yoga, dancing and running for both comfort and form.

The thing that Chip Wilson has introduced to this conversation is the question as to whether or not you want to be a part of a company that brings to the surface the insecurity and self-consciousness that most women and even more young girls need to combat and overcome to feel self-confident and proud of their very real, beautiful and unPhoto Shopped bodies.

A thigh gap should not be a goal.

So on the heels of showing my daughter that amazing YouTube video meme from a few weeks ago, 37 Seconds to Perfect, forgoing the popular Abercrombie & Fitch clothing lines because of their dedication to only tiny sizes that made even my normal sized 10 year old say she felt “fat” and the company’s dismay at seeing homeless people wearing their brand, we are now also taking Lululemon clothing off the Chanuka list.

It’s not about the tight clothing. I’ll buy my daughter athletic wear for a third of the price that looks like Lululemon (and at this point is probably the same quality) at Old Navy and call it a day. She knows when and how to wear it appropriately.

But the message is about refusing to spend our dollars on a company that contributes to the conversations girls as young as ten are having around thigh gaps. And while I love Lululemon clothing more than I care to admit, I care much more about my daughters’ self-confidence and body images to model that it’s okay to spend my money on a brand that would make such callous statements about the bodies of all ages of women and insult their intelligence in this way.

It’s difficult enough to maneuver the body image issues of being a teenager, or even as an adult. But as I saw my daughter cross the Lululemon leggings off her list, I saw something that looked like defiance in her expression, and relief, too, as she perhaps felt that she could do something to keep big brands and culture from defining for her what beautiful should look like.

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thomas davisthomas davis