I got my hair cut today (short! ish!) and Nat hasn’t seen it yet. So I’m sitting here, post-yoga, trying not to fuss too much with my hair before he gets home. What better time to write a post?
I’ve mentioned before that I have a little bit of an obsession with lululemon. When the weather’s warm, it seems as though I can’t escape these shorts. I see these pants all over the place. That stylized ‘A’ they use as their logo haunts my dreams. Every time I see one of their products I think about how much I want it.
Lately, though, I’ve been asking myself what it is about lululemon apparel that appeals to me so much. I’ve never tried on a lululemon product; I’ve never even been in a lululemon store; my skin has never come into contact with anything they’ve made, not even one of their reusable bags. So wherefore my lululust?
For one thing, their mission statement and manifesto make them seem so approachable. I mean, sure, you can’t easily read the manifesto, but how many companies even have a manifesto to begin with? And theirs is filled with phrases that will lift your heart and make it sing, like “Dance, sing, floss, and travel”! And their mission statement makes them seem so full of integrity. And they like yoga…But even as I sit here reviewing these things, I can’t help but think of Special K, and the fact that I spoke to their director of nutrition marketing, who told me that their goal was to make women focus on health, and encourage them to feel good about their bodies (not necessarily make them feel as though they had to lose weight).
To be honest, I’m pretty sure that my interest in lululemon has more to do with the people I see wearing the product than the product itself. Every time I see the lululogo, it’s worn by an attractive thin woman who looks like she could be a model on their website. When I see runners wearing those shorts in Central Park, I can’t but notice their toned thighs and flat stomachs. Same thing with the pants. I’ve come to associate the product with a body type that I wish I had, and, like many a victim of advertising, I’ve convinced myself that owning the product will give me that body type.
It’s easy to understand how this would happen, what with the plethora of young, thin, fit-looking women in New York City…not to mention the plethora of young, thin, fit-looking women modeling lululemon apparel on the brand’s website. I guess they have to use thin, fit-looking women to model their clothing, though, right? Because no one wants to see thunder thighs in shorts like these, amirite?! I mean, I understand the concept of modeling, and how it’s important to make the product look good. But I guess I fail to see why a brand that posits itself as being health-oriented and accepting only seems to really promote one body type. A visit to their website brings you to a picture of several women in lululemon hot yoga apparel, supposedly mid-practice. All have flat, toned tummies, all are gorgeous. Walk into any hot yoga studio anywhere and sure, you’ll see people like that. But you’ll also see people who are bigger, or who have thin thighs and less toned abs, or large hips and a small chest. You’ll see a variety of body types, because healthy doesn’t come in one size. Healthy comes in all sizes. In my opinion, companies like lululemon have an opportunity to get that message across; they reach a broad audience, and their product is popular. Why not use that position to try to change the way people see things?
Ultimately, if brands like lululemon were to live up to their manifestos and use models of every size, larger thighs in short shorts wouldn’t be so shocking to us, it would be as normal as smaller thighs. Instead, though, we only see small, “perfect” bodies, even when the copy points out that the waistband on a particular pair of pants “helps eliminate muffin top”. If that’s the case, show the consumer the pants on someone who has a muffin top to conceal. After all, a company that encourages people to “do one thing every day that scares you” can’t really claim to be afraid that putting their clothes on women who are larger than a size 2 will result in a drop in sales, right? That is, unless it doesn’t really operate according to its own manifesto.
Do you own any lululemon apparel? How do you think their message of positivity compares to the images they associate with their brand?