So much has been written about the Nike mannequin/Tanya Gold/fatphobia debate recently that I was a little reluctant to give it more airtime, but then I thought of Tanya Gold’s comments and how destructive they were, how much hatred they spread and how many negative comments I had read because of her words and felt like I had to comment. This blog aims to be accepting, to be a place for discussions and to celebrate self acceptance however you look – so why would I not comment on something that did the opposite?
First of all, shopping can be a daunting task for any woman no matter how she looks. Clothing shops do very little to make you feel comfortable. You never know what size you’ll be from one shop to the other, the changing rooms are always awfully lit and if your first outfit looks terrible then it puts you in a mood for the rest of the trip. I love a girly shopping day, but how I walk away from them feeling is hit and miss. Sometimes they do my confidence more damage than good. Seeing huge photos of tiny models wearing clothes that would never hang on my body in the same way or seeing skeletal mannequins showing us how an outfit is ‘meant’ to look doesn’t really make anyone feel beautiful. Shopping is fun, but you almost have to prepare yourself for confidence knocks whilst you do it.
The problem isn’t the act of shopping or even the clothes themselves, it’s how we are made to feel when we are in these environments. Most clothing companies simply reinforce rigid, toxic and realistically unattainable beauty standards.
I don’t know anyone who looks like a ‘normal’ mannequin. I don’t know anyone who has no hips, huge boobs and legs the same width as their arms, but I do know people who look like the Nike mannequin. I know people whose BMI would class them as overweight or obese. I know people with curves. I know people who feel conscious going to buy exercise clothing through fear of judgement. I recognise that mannequin – I see it every day walking down the street. I don’t scoff at it or mock it because to me it reflects real people, people that are actually probably fitter than I am even if their clothing size is bigger than my own.
All this uproar shows us is that overweight people can’t win. People complain because people are overweight, then if ‘overweight’ people are represented by a company and their fitness promoted then they are shamed again. People tell overweight people to exercise then get mad when they do – please tell me who is a winner in that situation?
‘Overweight’ people exercise. ‘Overweight’ people shop at Nike. ‘Overweight’ people are allowed to look good. ‘Overweight’ people should be represented on the high street. ‘Overweight’ people might want to loose weight, but they also might not. They might be happy just as they are. ‘Overweight’ people are people who deserve the same respect as thin people do. No one can look at someone and determine their health simply because of their size.
Nike did a great thing with this mannequin. They included real people in their product. They knew who their consumers were – they walked down the street and saw them. The problem here isn’t the mannequin, but the people who are so narrow minded, so judgemental and so intent on spreading hate to create wider divisions in society than there already are.
Live and let live. Just do it.