Earlier this week the Telegraph published an article on Nike’s plus-size mannequins, calling them “obese,” “gargantuan,” and “a dangerous lie.” Not surprisingly, women on social media aren’t having it.
The world of sports—and workout gear, for that matter—hasn’t historically been the most size-inclusive place. Thankfully, that’s changing, as major brands like Nike are stepping up to recognize the fact that women of all sizes can, and do, workout. Earlier this month Nike revamped its London flagship store, including plus-size models, to show off the brand’s recently expanding range of sizes. (They also included para-sport models.)
It’s a powerful shift, but as with any step toward progress, there are haters. The new Nike mannequin is “immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat,” writer Tanya Gold said in her Telegraph article. “She is, in every measure, obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, prediabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”
This is of course bullshit. Weight is not a reliable indicator of health. Women of all weights, shapes, and sizes run marathons, practice yoga, do CrossFit. They box, they swim, they play tennis, they bike, they climb mountains. Visit a gym, a Spin class, or the sidelines of a race and you’ll see all different kinds of bodies—all athletes, all deserving to be there.
The backlash to Gold’s article was swift, with women sharing photos and stories on social media of themselves working out, sporting plus-size gear, and delivering a resounding clap-back to the Telegraph‘s assertion that being plus-size and being an athlete are mutually exclusive. “Excluding diverse bodies is the opposite of progress,” model Iskra Lawrence wrote on Instagram. “Being skinny does not equal being healthy…I’m nearly 200lbs of ‘I will kick your a$$ in a sprint, boxing, jumping and lifting over half my body weight.'”
Here are some of the most powerful reactions to the fat-shaming article that prove women of all sizes can kick ass in the gym:
“Still want to tell me my body type can’t run?” one woman wrote.
“THIS is crazed bullying. It’s hate speech. We can’t allow people to discuss size like this. We wouldn’t allow it about race or religion in these huge publications,” actor and founder of I_weigh Jameela Jamil wrote on Instagram. “I’m disgusted and furious. Everyone at every size deserves to feel comfortable and good about themselves. And goddammit how can we shame people about their size and then try to take down mannequins for sportswear that include their size, inviting them at last into a part of the world they have been previously excluded from. So backwards, so grotesque and so disappointing.”
“As a non prediabetic size 18 woman who has always been big…I find that these types of rants are more of a reflection of how someone feels about themselves,” Katie Sturino, a plus-size blogger and founder of Megababe, posted on Instagram.
“As my friend and trainer @lubu22 says…you can still be thin and very unhealthy. Size does not fully determine health,” one woman wrote.
“That mannequin with the bigger body represents me, in fact my body is even bigger than that mannequin. People wonder why fate people don’t feel welcome in the fitness space – THIS IS WHY!,” one woman posted on Instagram. “I wish growing up I had seen mannequins like this and plus-size people represented in the fitness world. I find that seeing bodies like mine represented encourages me to move and take care of myself physically.”
“Tonight I swam 500m round a freezing cold reservoir and I loved it! The only thing that held me back was my wetsuit (the biggest women’s one I could get) garrotting my neck,” another woman posted. “I had the same experience trying to get clothes to fit when I was marathon training, and what makes it even more frustrating is putrid articles like this from the @telegraph (swipe right) today against @nike’s move to have realistic sized female mannequins to house their realistic sized gym wear. How are we expected to get fit and healthy if we can’t buy the clothes to bloody exercise in?”
“Why is it ok to publicly shame plus-size women who want to be more active and fit. Who want to work out, who want to wear a well known brand,” one woman wrote in an Instagram post.
“Plus girls work out every day,” another woman wrote.
“We’re told multiple types a day, every single day, that our bodies are only considered worthy if we shrink ourselves,” one woman posted. “Your body is worthy. At any size. And so is mine.”
“It is hard enough for women to find the courage and strength needed to start exercising and even harder to find clothes that fit us,” another woman wrote. “Nothing burns me up more than women tearing down other women, especially women who are trying to make a change in their lives…. Your health and fitness is not dictated by your size (large or small) and it is also no one else’s business but yours.”