Nike recently unveiled a plus-size mannequin in its flagship Oxford Street store and it caused quite a stir online, with critics saying it is promoting obesity – and models have come out in their droves to challenge this view.
It began when Tanya Gold penned a reaction piece in the Telegraph and described the mannequin as, “An immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat. She is, in every measure, obese, and she is not readying herself for a run on her shiny Nikegear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”
Prominent plus-size activists ciriticised Gold, calling her words fat-phobic. One of these voices is Welsh model Callie Thorpe, who addressed the fat-shaming in an Instagram post.
It’s so disheartening working in an industry where you think great strides are being made, only to be starkly reminded that fatphobia is rampant and no matter what we do we will never be respected.
She went on to call Nike’s decision to feature diverse body shape “powerful.”
Thorpe went on:
I usually would write a response to this [Gold’s article] with a point to prove. something defending my point of view and those of my peers saying how outdated and disgusting these views are but quite honestly what’s the point? I’m that heaving with [sic] fat woman she is talking about.
It’s no wonder people are turning to extreme weight loss measures like surgery because it feels like the only way out.
It’s ludicrous that fat people are mocked, bullied and told to get to the gym and lose weight yet we are also told, we don’t deserve the access to active wear. Do you see how ridiculous that is? Which goes to show It’s got nothing to do with health concern and everything to do with prejudice.
Thorpe is calling on people who aren't plus-size to speak out against the abuse and be allies.
Another activist and author, Megan Jayne Crabbe, approached the criticism in a light-hearted way.
“I thought I'd go and visit the babe responsible for thousands of fatphobes on the internet losing their s**t this week, she began on an Instagram post of her own.
Apparently a fitness brand using mannequins above a UK size 8 is the most outrageously offensive thing that's ever happened! Or to quote some of the comments I've seen - "dangerous", "disgusting", and "promoting death". Imagine my surprise when I entered @nikelondon and the mannequin did not, in fact, try to kill me! We actually got along great and fully rocked this impromptu photoshoot.
And do you know what I noticed during my death defying encounter with a plus size piece of plastic? People of all shapes and sizes were in the store.
Some bigger than the mannequin, some smaller, and every single one deserves to see themselves represented and be catered for. Regardless of their fitness level. Whether they work out or not. Whatever fatphobic wankers want to say about who can and cannot wear a pair of fucking leggings. Every one of us is worthy of being represented, celebrated, and seen. This is a very small step in the right direction, and the reaction to it has shown exactly how necessary it is.
Comedian and "fat activist" Sofie Hagen dragged Tanya Gold on Twitter
Many people online proved to be great allies
Kelechi Okofor, who runs a dance fitness studio tweeted her ire: “I don’t know who Tanya gold is but I’m 89 per cent sure that she’s a d***head.
As a fitness professional (a bloody good one at that) I get so bored of you lot equating someone’s size with their health.
Okofor joined a chorus of voices speaking out against the piece, and against attacks online calling Nike’s decision to be inclusive, promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.