Chastising the Ohm

By Sarah Adler

It was oh-so-easy to boycott the Moose. Abercrombie won’t make women’s clothing above a size ten? It’s okay, I prefer my sweatpants without your name down the side. CEO Mike Jeffries said, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong? See you later floral skirt that was supposed to (and didn’t) attract all the boys at middle school dances. Oh, you will make plus-sizes for boys, because you want athletes? Every girl might be able to hear a little better if she never stepped into your store again. 

So why haven’t we thrown away our Lululemon yoga pants yet? Just type in Lululemon Size Discrimination into your Google search bar, and you’ll find a plethora of articles that tell you Lulu isn’t really selling anything over a Size 8 in their store, and they stop at a Size 12 online.

Please, stop your tears. Ms. Day, do not celebrate quite yet. This is a bit more complicated – even more than keeping your Smartwool socks from brunching over Wunder Under yoga pants as you slide them into your Bean Boots. There’s more going with Lululemon than Abercrombie.

To start with a wild generalization, I believe most HB girls now own more Lululemon than they do Abercrombie. Besides a couple of your classic v-necks, the occasional dress, and possibly a pair of jeans (hey, I’m not blaming you, my A&F jeans attended every social event with US until junior year), you are more likely to see a girl rocking the yoga pants with an ohm on her butt than your good old ‘Crombie. In a recent survey of which 241 of you answered (out of about 365), 136 of you admitted to owning Lulus. That’s a whopping 56%. Now, between those girls, 127 told me how many they own – 398 pairs between 127 HB girls – with each pants having an inseam of about 34 inches, that’s more .2 miles of Lulu yoga pants, which is probably a little less than the distance from HB to lower US. So, I think it is fair to say we have more Lulu, or at least we are wearing more (shout-out to the Abercrombie in the back of your closet though).

And let’s face it: Lulu is in. Walk the halls on a dress-down day and you can’t go a minute without seeing it. Walk into the senior room on any day, and I promise you’ll see a pair. Find me at any social event ever, and you know I’m wearing Lulus. One of you in your survey even responded, “Who would buy leggings that aren’t from Lululemon?”

But here’s the thing: lots of you don’t, and maybe more of us shouldn’t be.

On the other hand, one of you responded to the survey, “Lululemon yoga pants are the most overrated rich, white girl pieces of clothing ever”.  Although that statement is racially incorrect, and the grammar was not the best (I added a comma between rich and white, as it two adjectives, [see Elements of Style, Page 33, Section 4]), not so many people are feeling these tight yoga pants. We cannot ignore that 105 of you, 44%, admit to not owning Lulus, with majority owning other brands from Target to Athleta, and that another group of girls at HB is not hopping on the Lulu bandwagon – girls sizes 8-12. Of the 127 girls owning Lulus, and the 398 pairs, 95% of those pairs are sizes 2-6.

Not so coincidental that Lululemon is under major heat for not selling plus size clothing.

Similar to Mike Jeffries announcement that some people’s bodies aren’t meant for Abercrombie, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, when faced with the giant crisis of his yoga pants turning sheer, blamed them on women’s thighs rubbing together. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure there is over a period of time…” Not surprisingly, this statement caused everyone to believe that Wilson was blaming the fat on women’s thighs for the low quality of his luxury yoga pants. It did not help that he also said, “Quite frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for it.” And that’s not all – Wilson’s statements are showing in his stores.

Former Lulu employee, Elizabeth Licorish, went to the media recently about her experiences at the store. Although she did release some crazy mumbo jumbo about the Lulu employees themselves, comparing them to a cult, I am just going to throw that argument to the backseat and assume Licorish is bitter because she attended Frank’s class at Chagrin Yoga, and was dismayed that the elderly men were killing it at Crow while she lay panting in a perennial Child Pose (or was that just me?). Licorish stated that while Sizes 2-8 were neatly folded and placed in cubbies in an almost OCD-like fashion, the 10s and 12s were left to a clump in the back of the store, rarely restocked, and so rarely containing the new fashions. A former anonymous supervisor even said that it would have looked strange to have the 12s out on display. Also, since when should a company stop at Size 12?

Just to clarify, a Lululemon size 12 is equivalent to an Athleta Size 16, but Athleta offers sizes way beyond Size 12, up to 2XL. Size discrimination in Lululemon is evident. Reportedly, women with bigger builds walk right into Lulu and right out. So should we be boycotting them? They are molding a stereotype that is hurting us as women, one in which larger women are not viewed as healthy, or even beautiful. It is a stereotype that fails to recognize that we come in all shapes and sizes, but rather assumes that if your waistband exceeds a certain number, it is your fault, and that your goal should be to trim some inches off of it.  Also, does it not bother anyone that one of the most popular women’s clothing lines out there right now is run by a male? As I write this, Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” and Mika’s “Big Girls (You Are Beautiful)” are playing on repeat in my head. What do we do?

I’ll admit it – I have been researching this article for a while, and this course I bought a new pair of Lulus. I knew all about the size discrimination, yet I still bought a cute pair of cropped yoga pants with a green floral waistband, and sported them to school Wednesday for the AMC. I couldn’t boycott them; I love them too much.

Although we would like to live in a world where morals guide everything, it is just not realistic. If Lululemon makes more money by marketing towards a certain type of women, they have that right. This is a capitalistic society, where sometimes, although we hate to admit it, business comes first. This excludes, of course, any harmful or gross techniques, such as Subway putting some yoga mat extract in their bread, but in this case, Lululemon is doing what it needs to in order to maximize revenue. This is their method. A lot of companies, such as Athleta, create their marketing method around offering larger clothing, in fact competing with Lululemon, and so they are maximizing their revenue as well. This is the ugly truth: our business world is often not guided by morals, and it won’t be, because money will always come first.

My best friend Phoebe once said to me that goals have to be small and achievable. Therefore, I propose something simultaneously less broad than changing our entire capitalistic society, yet monumental in how we think. I propose that we do not let companies like Lululemon decide what is beautiful for us. We are all strong, independent women (although this is a groan-worthy phrase, it is true), and we shouldn’t have to rely on the businesses of the world, especially ones run by men, to tell us what a woman should look like. We should embrace how we look. It’s trite, and so hard to do, but what if instead of trying to change society, so we can therefore change our views of ourselves, we change how we view ourselves, and therefore change society as a whole, in a slow evolution-like process? Instead of saying Lulu is wrong because it does not sell plus-size clothing, we should focus more on accepting ourselves. The fact your thighs touch? It’s normal. The Kangaroo pouch on your stomach? Go to ancient Rome and you’ll see every Greek goddess statue with the same extra tummy fat. Your thighs are too big? Congrats on using them for walking from your car into school every morning, or winning a state championship. By blaming Lululemon, we are taking the responsibility to change the world off ourselves, and putting it into the hands of corporation and the men who run them.

I know it’s not fair. We did not create the physical stereotypes that we are forced to follow, so therefore we shouldn’t have to be the ones to change them. But, we are the ones who continue them. All the rest of the world can do is look at you. Only you can see yourself. Start seeing yourself differently. As the Lululemon bags say, “Your outlook on life is a direct reflection on how you view yourself.” Let’s change our views first, and then worry about the rest of the world later. Support the Ohm, support the Moose, but first and foremost, support yourself.