My Thoughts on Nike’s Plus-Size Mannequin

In early June, Nike released a new plus-size mannequin in one of its locations in Oxford, London. Many people weren’t shy to express their dismay of this “controversial” addition, out of fear that showing a plus-size mannequin would be a misstep in the fight against obesity. As a result, this sparked a lot of debate regarding whether or not showcasing a large woman in a sports bra and leggings is promoting an “unhealthy lifestyle”. 

Here’s why I disagree.  

It’s 2019, and not everyone is built like a “regular” store mannequin. In fact, almost no one is built like that. The average American woman is 5’3” and weighs 168.5 pounds. There are women who are 6 feet tall and weigh 130 pounds, there are women who are 5 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds, and the list goes on. There is no one “right” way to look. 

People come in all shapes in sizes, and a person’s body does not necessarily indicate what kind of lifestyle they live. A lot of women who qualify as “obese” are still athletes. They run, they dance, and they do things. Modern-day athletes are not all thin and muscular, and that needs to be acknowledged. Everyone in the athletic world deserves representation, not just the people who look how society thinks an athlete should look. 

There is a woman by the name of Mirna Valerio, who runs a blog called “Fat Girl Running”, where she shares her experiences of being a large woman in a “skinny”-dominated world. Mirna competes in marathons, and she is just as able-bodied and healthy as a thin woman. Women like Mirna need to be represented in the athletic industry not only because she’s badass, but simply because she exists. Plus-size athletes exist! Let’s not ignore reality! 

There’s a movement in the Nutrition industry currently happening called “Health At Every Size” (HAES). This movement is based on the principles that people can technically be overweight and still be living a healthy life. This is because there is a difference between being overweight or obese as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle and being obese because your body simply does not want to be thin. A lot of obese people eat healthy, exercise, and do everything “right”, but they can’t fight their natural weight. We all have a weight that our body wants to be at, and trying to fight that is way more damaging than a fat mannequin in a Nike store. 

Having a plus-size mannequin showcased in an athletic retail space promotes body acceptance. It lets the little girl walking by know that just because she’s bigger than her friends, she is still capable of playing soccer. It gives the big girl in ballet class reassurance that there is nothing “wrong” with her because she orders an XL leotard. It encourages the overweight boy in class to try out for the football team, because he is not defined by his weight. 

Large people should not be hidden or shamed for being active, because they are just as deserving of representation as any thin person. Being fat is not a handicap, but being scared of a fat mannequin in a Nike store is. 

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