Lululemon, the athletic apparel store that charges a hundred bucks for yoga pants despite their dubious quality, just can't seem to get it right. When asked about widespread complaints about pilling and ripping in the pants (the second major quality issue in the recent past, after an earlier round of pants was downright see-through), Lululemon co-founder Chip Wilson responded, "Frankly, some women's bodies just don't actually work for it [...] they don't work for some women's bodies. It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it."
Ouch! His poor, poor fabric, having to quake, quiver and eventually surrender under the Godzillian heft of a woman's curves!
Let's call nonsense right away. At this very moment, I am watching a dozen 320-pound men run around in Spandex pants, leaping, stretching and scrunching like their livelihoods depend on it (which they do.) Granted, they are not doing the Downward Dog -- they are chasing a football and each other -- but their thighs are most definitely rubbing together. Golly gee, how can the fabric stand it all? Call the NFL's apparel designer, stat! That person obviously possesses the ability to defy the laws of physics!
I realize it's much more convenient to blame women, saying they're simply too fat, especially if they lack the mythical "thigh gap" that is all the rage among folks with disordered eating. It is probably womankind's fault, actually, since they're daring to wear the pants and choosing to actually move in them. In fact, perhaps it is also women's bodies that are to blame for the company having made pants that were inadvertently sheer. After all, it was the women's bodies that were visible! If those bodies weren't there, then the pants wouldn't seem so sheer, would they?
I admit that I have never bought, or worn, Lululemon pants, but I have been sewing clothes for 25 years. (Um, now you understand one of at least 17 reasons why I have never bought, or worn, Lululemon pants. Relatedly, I also don't enjoy lighting sheets of money on fire.) There are quality fabrics and there are poor fabrics. There is good construction and there is poor construction. There is choosing to charge a hundred bucks for poor fabric and poor construction and -- voila! -- there stands Lululemon.
Those with much more cash than me and far fewer chimichangas under their belt are certainly free to shop there as they wish. But as a psychologist with a keen interest in the way that our culture shuns and subjugates women who don't fit a certain physical mold, Wilson's statements are just outrageous as Lululemon tries to make women feel bad about themselves while still taking their cash. Don't tell us our bodies are wrong because you're too in love with your outsized profit margin (which has been associated with sweatshop labor) to bother making a higher quality product.
Maybe someday, 100 bucks will buy you the right to have seams that don't split and fabric that isn't a pile of pills after only a few workouts. But I guess that would be just as realistic as people practicing the age-old, spiritual art of yoga -- that which values simplicity and modesty -- while wearing something that isn't a status symbol.
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