Nike’s plus size mannequin sparks obesity debate

Roisin Maguire

Nike has recently introduced plus size mannequins in its London store. They wear black workout leggings and a crop top similar to the regular mannequin that stands beside it.

The purpose of these mannequins is to show a body positive image of exercise and that not all people who exercise are a size 10 and under. It was introduced to promote a healthy relationship with exercise no matter what the size and this is that everyone works out no matter the size.

However, a lot of people have an issue with this and some have even said that it promotes obesity and that it is normalising the idea that being heavier or curvy is acceptable. Some critics say that it is a threat to our health which is quite inaccurate as the average dress size of a British woman is a size 16 which is classified as plus size according to Miss Average.

Some people have defended Nike on Twitter saying that what is more harmful to women’s health is the size eight mannequins and that they create issues surrounding the “perfect woman” and increase the number of eating disorders diagnosed.

A British journalist Tanya Gold, who wrote for the UK Telegraph, said that the mannequins are “immense, gargantuan, vast”, “heaves with fat” and are “glorifying obesity”. She said that “she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”

The point that Gold makes can be construed as overweight people should not work out which is defeating the purpose of these mannequins and can be interpreted by plus size women that they should be too embarrassed to go for a run or go to the gym.

Another issue with the internet trolls is that they claim that they are concerned about the health of people and this is why they believe a slimmer body is healthier. However, your weight can fluctuate for a number of different reasons such as thyroid problems, chronic illnesses, ethnicity, the genes they inherited and the rate of a person’s metabolism

Weight isn’t always a giveaway into a person’s health. A slim person could have a terrible diet of fizzy drinks and sugar and a bigger person may have a very healthy diet therefore a person’s weight is very difficult to determine how healthy a person is.

Nike is doing what other sports retailers also need to achieve which is to “celebrate the diversity and inclusivity in sport.” Fat shaming is not a thing of the past which essentially creates a dysfunctional relationship between people, food and exercise.

The critics don’t make it any easier for a plus size person to walk into a gym and face all the stares from the regulars. Going to the gym is difficult enough without knowing there are people out there who are fat shaming you when you are trying to better yourself.

Author: Roisin Maguire

Image Credit: Wikimedia