Monday, 10 June 2019

Nike’s Plus Size Mannequins Uncover the Truth About Weight Stigma

A couple of years after introducing their plus size line, (which still has plenty of room to grow as it currently only goes up to 3x) Nike has added some plus size mannequins in their London Flagship store.  And fatphobes the world over (I’d say very likely the same ones who are constantly complaining that fat people don’t exercise, as if that’s any of their business,) lost their collective shit. Reader Natasha let me know that a popular UK publication (which I’ll not be giving traffic by naming or linking to) described the mannequin thusly:

“not a size 12, which is healthy, or even 16 – a hefty weight, yes, but not one to kill a woman. She is immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat.”

Setting aside the fact that health and weight are not the same thing (there are healthy and unhealthy people of all shapes and sizes,) and that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances, and setting aside the fact that she doesn’t “heave with fat” so much as she heaves with plastic, as she is a mannequin, and that she doesn’t heave at all because, again, mannequin, I have to wonder what image this writer’s tribute to fatphobia and synonyms conjures up in people’s minds.

View the mannequin [insert creepy whispery voice…] if you dare…

Now, we know better than to make an “it’s not even that fat!” argument, but if hysterical internet fatphobes are to be believed (and they aren’t,) this mannequin is “promoting obesity.” They claimed the same thing about the clothing line, so let me just reiterate part of what I wrote about that:

“Promoting obesity” is not a real thing. “Wait — Nike is making a small group of styles and colors of their workout clothes in plus sizes, and displaying them on mannequines? I’m totally getting fat!” said absolutely nobody ever.

The idea that creating a world that accommodates fat people in even remotely the same way it accommodates thin people somehow promotes fatness would be hilarious if it wasn’t used to hurt so many fat people. A diversity of body sizes has always, and will always, exist. And people all along that spectrum of sizes deserve seats that accommodate us, and clothes that fit us and that we like, including but not limited to sweat-wicking capris leggings, and mannequins shaped like us so that we have the same experience shopping that thin people do.

The promoting obesity myth is perpetuated by cruel people who want to make fat people’s lives miserable — the same kind of people who complain that fat people don’t work out (not their business) and then mock fat people for working out in public (not their damn business) and then complain that companies make clothes for fat people to work out in (not their fucking business!).

This brings into sharp relief the truth about so much fatphobia — not just by those pathetic enough to become online trolls, but by those who casually drop their fatphobic opinions into comment spaces. It’s not that people care about fat people’s health, it’s not even that they believe we’re costing them money somehow (though the “but mah tax dollurz” argument is also total bunk.) 

It’s that some people like to hate fat people.

If these trolls would prefer that I work out naked, I have no problem with that (except maybe for the chaffing). But somehow, I doubt that would please them either.

What they are looking for is a world where fat people live in shame — hiding in our houses, unable to participate in a world that, if they had it their way, wouldn’t accommodate us at all. They want fat people to be nothing more than online punching bags living behind drawn blinds.

Fuck that, and fuck them. People of all sizes deserve the ability to live and thrive in a world that accommodates us.

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