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People are defending Nike after a journalist slammed the sportswear brand for an 'immense, gargantuan' plus-size mannequin

Kate Taylor , Business Insider US
 Jun 12, 2019, 09:59 AM
Business Insider/Dennis Green
  • A journalist criticised Nike for debuting a plus-size mannequin, saying the "immense, gargantuan" model promoted obesity.
  • People are defending Nike and slamming the journalist, Tanya Gold, as they push back on her claims that it is impossible for plus-size women to be healthy.
  • Others said it is illogical for Gold to say Nike shouldn't advertise sportswear for plus-size women while also demanding they lose weight.
  • Research indicates that encouraging weight-related stigma - such as banning plus-size mannequins - makes it more difficult for people to lose weight.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Nike's plus-size mannequins have sparked outrage over the treatment of plus-size women.

The sportswear company recently began featuring plus-size mannequins in its London flagship store. It was a move that was mostly greeted with applause, as people celebrated the choice as empowering and a step in the right direction.

However, Tanya Gold, a journalist at The Telegraph, had less positive thoughts on the plus-size mannequin.

"I fear that the war on obesity is lost, or has even, as is fashionable, ceased to exist, for fear of upsetting people into an early grave," Gold wrote in her piece, which was published on Sunday.

"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 wrote.

Gold said that while traditional images of female beauty are unrealistically skewed, the mannequin encourages fat acceptance - a movement that she believes to be dangerous, as she says it encourages people to deny health risks related to obesity.

"The facts are obvious," Gold wrote. "Stay that weight and you will be an old woman in your 50s. The obese Nike athlete is just another lie."

Gold's piece has seen extensive backlash online. Many pushed back on her allegation that plus-size women "cannot run" and are intrinsically unhealthy.

Some said it was illogical for Gold to call for people to lose weight while also criticising a sportswear brand for advertising to plus-size people - presumably so they could work out in the outfit. (Nike did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.)

Others pushed back on Gold's logic that plus-size mannequins promoted an unhealthy lifestyle. The health and wellness writer Maxine Ali pointed out that a 2017 study in the Journal of Eating Disorders found that more than 90% of female mannequins represented medically unhealthy, underweight bodies.

While weight gain and obesity have been linked to certain health risks, experts caution against using weight as the sole way to evaluate health.

Further, encouraging weight-related stigma - such as by banning plus-size mannequins - has been found to make it more difficult for people to lose weight, according to a 2018 study of university students. Another 2014 study found that articles that stigmatised weight and obesity lead to women who view themselves as overweight to consume more calories.

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