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Anna Jay/Refinery29

The Telegraph sparks outrage over ‘obese’ Nike mannequins article


TextAlex Peters

Estee Laundry leads the backlash against writer Tanya Gold over her inflammatory comments about Nike’s plus size mannequins

Last week Nike unveiled plus-size and para-sport mannequins at its London flagship store. The inclusive step was, quite rightly, widely celebrated and praised across social media and the press, who applauded the brand’s representation of varying body shapes.

“So important to show that woman of all sizes can be fit and healthy! We have been completely brainwashed into thinking skinny = fit and curvy = unhealthy. This is awesome,” wrote one commenter on an Instagram post by Refinery29. “So needed! Especially in the active wear sphere it’s not just thin people who exercise,” wrote another, while someone else added, “This makes me so happy, I would have loved seeing such a mannequin when I was a little girl.”

However, not everyone has been so ready to join in on the celebration. Yesterday, The Telegraph published a story in which writer Tanya Gold claims Nike is promoting obesity and selling women a dangerous lie with the new mannequins.

In her inflammatory piece, Gold criticises Nike for the move and calls out the body positive movement, which she calls the “fat-acceptance movement,” for killing women.

“The new Nike mannequin is not size 12, which is healthy, or even 16 – a hefty weight, yes, but not one to kill a woman. She is immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat,” Gold writes. “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, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”

Considering how offensive Gold seems to find women over a certain size, quite why she would be angered by something which promotes exercise – the mannequins display Nike’s plus-size range for women which launched in 2017 – is unclear but her words have upset many, with beauty watchdog Estée Laundry leading the reaction.

“Fucking vile and dangerous of her and the Telegraph,” wrote Bethany Rutter on Instagram. “WEIGHT DOES NOT EQUAL HEALTH. REPEAT.” wrote another commenter.

“‘She heaves with fat’ might be the most absolutely disgusting ‘analysis’ of something that should be celebrated. I’m a woman of that size and seeing mannequins like this make me feel encouraged. For too long has the gym floor, or any exercise space felt overwhelmingly intimidating for woman and men who aren’t a size fucking 12. How can you encourage women of any size to enjoy exercise, movement or even just enjoy the fucking clothes without representation. This article is utter bullshit.”

“Plus size doesn’t always = obese. Thin doesn’t always = healthy. One size does NOT fit all. And once again, clickbait has been mistaken for journalism.”

As many people pointed out, health and fitness cannot be judged by size. In 2016, a study conducted by the University of California-Los Angeles and published in the  International Journal of Obesity found that body mass index (BMI) is not a reliable way to measure someone's health. The study reports that almost half of Americans (34.4 million) who are considered overweight by their BMI number are healthy, as are 19.8 million who are considered obese.

In light of this, Gold’s comments feel outdated and should be given no further attention.

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