According to ANAND, “Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.” Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rates among mental disorders. So who in their right mind would encourage them?
Wanted: Bodies that “work”.
On November 5th 2013 Lululemon’s former Chief Executive Chris Wilson told Bloomberg TV, “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for Lululemon’s yoga pants. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time and how they much they use it.”
In other words: don’t have a thigh gap? You’re not good enough for Lulu. A thigh gap, for those who may not know, is the space between a woman’s legs that is present when her feet are together. For many this is an impossible body goal due to how their bone structure is designed, but in the quest for one many have turned to unhealthy decisions, like eating disorders.
Eating disorders are mental illnesses, and to a 100% confident person, Wilson’s statement would make little difference. But lets be honest, is there such thing as a 100% confident person? Especially in this modern society which raises people’s expectations of what bodies should look like with ever present storms of impossibly shaped, photo-shopped, models.This idea that for your body to “work”, you need a thigh gap can be damaging to body perception, even for a person who has never previously struggles with body dysmorphic disorder. Even if this damage done by thoughtless words doesn’t morph into an eating disorder, that doesn’t mean that it can’t still hurt, or lead to other unhealthy decisions.
Lululemon did remove Wilson from his position in December, and he published an apology video for his comments. But while this was an appreciated move by many, his words are still out there. And he’s not alone. What about a certain store that doesn’t offer sizes larger than large? (cough cough-Abercrombie) In 2013, Chief Executive of Abercrombie Mike Jeffries infuriated many when he claimed that the company’s clothes were made for “cool” and “attractive” kids and not for “fat” people.
This is just as damaging as the Lululemon quote, implying that in order for one to be considered cool or attractive, they have to be skinny. The Abercrombie statement is even, arguably, more dangerous than the Lululemon one, as Abercrombie is very popular with teens and pre-teens who are often considered the most likely to be perceptible to things like eating disorders. And again, unhealthy body ideas are spread and unwise and unsafe decisions follow.
Worth is not measured in weight
In the past few years many have spoken out against blatant photo-shopped lies, and malnourished models, in magazines affecting young women’s views of themselves. But now these same young adults that we have tried to protect also have to also deal with what may be their favorite clothing company telling them that they are only good enough if they are skinny.
This is a dangerous path to go down, one where people who do not have a “thigh gap” or are over a certain clothing size feel like they are not as good as their skinnier friends. Worth is not based on superficial things like this, but when people in power abuse that power by claiming that it is, the damage can be irreparable. The thing to remember when you are bombarded by lies all around you is that you are a unique, wonderful, human being who is so much more than your outside, whatever that looks like. And let’s be honest, your worth to society is most likely infinitely higher than someone’s who brings such pain and needless suffering.
Jefferies, Wilson, I’m looking at you.