Representation matters, which is why celebrities like Jameela Jamil and Iskra Lawrence are speaking out in support of Nike after the sportswear company unveiled curvy mannequins at their London store — and a British writer wrote a body-shaming column calling them “immense” and “gargantuan.”
Nike introduced the mannequins, which had already debuted in North America in 2018, at their refurbished London flagship store on Wednesday.
“To celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of sport, the space will not just celebrate local elite and grassroot athletes through visual content, but also show Nike plus size and para-sport mannequins for the first time on a retail space,” the company said in a press release.
While most celebrated the new mannequins, Tanya Gold, a columnist for the U.K. newspaper the Telegraph, wrote on Sunday that she fears “the war on obesity is lost” because the company is promoting larger sizes.
Calling the mannequin “immense, gargantuan, vast” and saying that it “heaves with fat,” Gold said that it was unhealthy to use as a way of promoting Nike’s products.
“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.”
Gold’s column led to immense backlash across social media, with several celebrities criticizing her for body shaming.
“THIS is crazed bullying. It’s hate speech,” The Good Place’s Jamil wrote on Instagram. “We can’t allow people to discuss size like this. We wouldn’t allow it about race or religion in these huge publications. The @telegraph are supporting bullying and hatred.”
“Everyone at every size deserves to feel comfortable and good about themselves,” she continued. “And god dammit 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.”
Lawrence echoed Jamil’s comments, and said size is not an indicator of health.
“I’ve been the nearer the size of a traditional mannequin (US4/6-UK8/10) and I’m currently nearer the size of the new plus size mannequin,” the model, who speaks openly about her history with anorexia, said on Instagram. “News flash — I am more healthy NOW than I was when I was thinner — because being skinny does not equal being healthy.”
People on Twitter also expressed their support for the mannequins — and their anger over the Telegraph column.
“I look like that @nike mannequin, and I’ve done a 10k, a half, & a marathon this year,” wrote one woman. “And there’s another 10k & a half coming up. If you think obese women can’t run you’ve clearly been living under a rock.”
One woman, a body image researcher, cited a 2017 study that said that the average mannequin size was actually unhealthy.
“A 2017 study in the Journal of Eating Disorders found that the over 90 percent of female mannequins represented a medically underweight body size that, if a human had the same body dimensions, they would have such little body fat that they would be unable to menstruate … If internet trolls were really concerned about the health of consumers, where were their complaints over underweight shop mannequins?”
Another woman said that the mannequin reflected her body type, and she’s in the process of walking 5,000 miles across Europe.
“This plus size body is 1800 miles into a 5000 mile walk. Nobody should be made to feel that their body is not appropriate for exercise and nobody should be excluded from dressing themselves in sportswear.”
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