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Gambling on the fat dollar

  • 23 March 2017


Earlier this month, sportswear behemoth Nike released a women's plus-size clothing range. They launched it with a campaign featuring Rubenesque women in the semi-seductive poses typically struck by slimsters advertising regular workout gear; poses no-one goes into while actually working out, of course.

The promotional statement included phrases such as: 'Women are stronger, bolder and more outspoken than ever' (hmm ... not sure, those early 20th century suffragettes were pretty strong, bold and outspoken), 'The days where we have to add "female" before "athlete" are over' (yay! although everyone's still doing it, like the AFL Women's League), and 'We celebrate these athletes' diversity, from ethnicity to body shape'.

It was this last sentence boiled the blood of the comment goblins. Howls of derision bounced from screen to screen. 'Does Nike make mumu shower curtains?' 'Sizes above a 20 ... shouldn't be encouraged.' 'I guess if competitive eating is a sport.' 'Brands shouldn't be supporting rising obesity levels ESPECIALLY an athletic sports brand.' 'Fat acceptance is Death acceptance, so I will continue to #BoycottNike.'

This last twit got two boycotts for the price of one, also objecting to Nike's new sports hijab. Seems neither fat people nor Muslim women should be allowed to sweat in fancy gear.

Sports clothing for larger women, while difficult to find in high street shops, is hardly innovative. These days, one can easily log on and order a pair of suitably baggy tracky-dacks and, to be fair, a body does not technically need branded lycra in order to exercise. So why the hullabaloo?

Elite athletes wear Nike. Celebrities wear Nike. Beautiful people wear Nike. People who take their sports seriously wear Nike.

Well, that's what decades of advertising around the little swooshy tick and 'Just Do It' trademark tells us. Fat girls don't deserve to wear Nike because they are supposed to feel ashamed of their ample girths. They should exercise, of course, but in sackcloth and ashes, with downcast faces, signalling they understand their moral depravity.

The great sin of the Nike plus-size women is that they look like they enjoy exercising and that afterwards, they might even enjoy other more sensual activities.


"No-one wants to see a fat person exercise, especially if they are wearing tight-fitting leggings and crop-tops. God forbid a tubby muffin-top blinds other gym-junkies. Fat invokes disgust."


The stigma around that most loathsome of bodily attributes, fat, is such that weight and obesity aren't just health issues, they are evidence of