Lululemon’s Pants Debacle Takes Fat-Shaming Turn

Lululemon. Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Just when you thought Lululemon’s See-Through Pants Scandal of Summer 2013 had finally died its long-overdue death and women could feel safe buying yoga bottoms without bending over and squirming around to check out their own butts in changing-room mirrors, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson went and made those pants into headline-worthy news again.* Bad news. Here’s a collection of said headlines culled from around the Internet, just to give you a taste:

• “Lululemon Founder Says Yoga Pants ’Don’t Work’ on All Women’s Bodies” [E! Online]
• “Lululemon boss blames customers’ fat thighs for making his yoga pants see-through” [Daily Mail]
• “Lululemon founder blames some women’s bodies for yoga pant debacle” [Chicago Tribune]
• “Your thighs are too fat for Lululemon pants” []

To explain: Wilson and his wife and business partner Michelle went on Bloomberg News to talk about meditation and his wife’s new company, Whil. The reporter then asked them a simple question: “What’s going on with the pants?” This ridiculous exchange ensued:

Chip: There’s no doubt about it that we made a mistake. But the thing is that we’re a technology company, and when you push technology, something is going to happen every now and then … We don’t have the advantage like software, being able to go over the Internet and fix the software and everything’s okay. We have an actual physical product. There are a thousand things that could go wrong on a technical fabric, and when three of those things go wrong at the same time, something’s going to happen. And it’s almost impossible to build a quality control case for each one of those combinations.
Reporter: And it’s continued to be a problem, because now there are complaints of pilling on the fabric.
Chip: Yeah, but there’s always been pilling. Women will wear a seatbelt that won’t work, or a purse that doesn’t work, or quite frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t work for it. 
Reporter: [Incredulous.] They don’t work for the pants?
Chip: They don’t work for certain women’s bodies.
Reporter: So the pants might be see-through on some women’s bodies, but not on others?
Chip: No, no. Because even our small sizes would fit an extra-large. It’s more about the rubbing through the thighs, and how much you’re using it.
Michelle: [Bravely attempting to save him.] And what you’re sitting up against, like cement ground …
Reporter: So not every woman can wear a Lululemon pant.
Chip: No, they can. It just depends on how you use it.

How you use pants? Allow us to explain: You put them on, one leg at a time, and then you walk around, and then you exercise in them. And for the majority of women, exercising involves some amount of chub rub. Not rolling around on cement, or wearing the “wrong seatbelt,” whatever that means. Just standard back-and-forth movement, like humans do, maybe with some side-to-side motions thrown in. That’s all.

Lululemon is currently searching for a new CEO. Good luck to the brave soul who takes it.

* This post has been corrected from its original version; Chip’s last name is Wilson, not Lyons. Let’s blame the mistake on my thighs.

Lululemon’s Pants Debacle Takes Fat-Shaming Turn