Last week Nike introduced plus-sized mannequins in it’s flagship London store “to celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of sport”.

Shortly after an article titled “Obese mannequins are selling women a dangerous lie” by Tanya Gold appeared in the Telegraph, in which she states

“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. 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.“

I was quite distressed to see this article appear as it is dehumanising and just perpetuates this idea that plus size individuals don’t deserve active wear. As Julie Wasson-Thompson commented on the article

“It’s overweight people who need to be encouraged into exercise and fitness more than anyone. If manufacturers don’t provide sports clothing to fit them, then the clear implication is that they are being excluded from gyms. What are they supposed to wear, if lightweight, stretchy, moisture-wicking sports clothes don’t come in sizes to fit them too? Telling them to put up with oversized T-shirts and baggy, old jogging bottoms is hardly going to help them feel less self-conscious and intimidated, is it?”

Sports and active lifestyles should be made available to everyone, and if that starts with a pair of stretchy leggings then so be it.

The cycling industry is just as guilty of this kind of shaming, in the quest to be ‘lean’. I’m a size 12 and quite curvy, which doesn’t match up with the idea of what a cyclist should look like. I was recently uninvited by brand to participate in shoot after sending over my measurements for kit…

This was so damaging to my self esteem and has taken a long time to start feeling comfortable with my appearance again. So when I see articles like this reinforcing the idea that not everyone should be able to access athletic wear it makes my heart sink.

At the end of the day athletic people come in all shapes and sizes and this should be celebrated.