Sunday, 4 May 2014

Body Image

Chip Wilson, founder of the store Lululemon specializing in women and men’s workout clothing, was scrutinized for his statement he made in 2013 declaring that “Frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for [wearing Lululemon pants]… it’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it,” suggesting that certain body weights do not look flattering in his clothing. Lululemon immediately started getting backlash from women all over the country stating that they will no longer be wearing his clothes. Reporters started arguing that you cannot serve part of the population and not all of them. The question is why? Easy. The society we live in is constantly surrounded by companies sugar coating certain things to please all consumers. It is not okay to make clothing that does not fit certain people, because everyone has to be satisfied or else someone is doing something wrong. Eventually, Wilson put out a public apology stating that “I’m sad for the repercussions of my actions. I’m sad for the people at Lululemon who I care so much about, that have really had to face the brunt of my actions. I take responsibility for all that has occurred and the impact it has had on you. This apology was not accepted by society so he eventually ended up stepping down from this position.

I’d like to ask a question as a social constructionist, what did Chip Wilson REALLY do wrong? Sure, he offended a lot of people. He made a statement about women’s body weight. In our society, that is wrong. But right there, that’s the issue. “In our society.” We are not allowed to discuss certain things that will offend others, especially as a public businessman. The right path for Chip Wilson would be to start making clothes that fit those specific body types. But even though he offended a lot of people, which society views as ‘bad’, he was being noble and true to the original vision he had for his company. Within his own community, making a product that only fit certain people made sense to him. Making a product that fit bigger women, he argued, would cost him more money, which he did not want to do. People were asking him to change his beliefs, change his mindset, simply because his were not ‘normal.’ But normal to who?

Different communities value different things. When this statement was heard, immediately every assumed, ‘oh, he is so terrible! How could he be so insensitive?’ Because in our society, we know when things are suppose to be considered ‘wrong.’ But if our society did not know that weight should not be discussed, would everyone still consider this statement so offensive? If people could step back and realize there are other truths in this world, other than their own, then these disagreements would not have to stem in the first place and maybe Chip Wilson could still have his company that he started and loves.

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