The Issue with Nike’s Plus Size Mannequins and Fatphobia

In their flagship store in London, Nike has introduced plus size as well as para-sport mannequins and while some are celebrating Nike’s representation of various body sizes and inclusivity, there are those who hone in on the plus size mannequins and have slammed Nike for “normalising obesity” and “selling women a dangerous lie”.


First came the article published through The Telegraph, where the writer expounds that the “new mannequin is obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.” The article went on to argue that these mannequins encourages people to accept being fat. Mind you, there are people who agree with her!

Needless to say, there is now overwhelming support for Nike and a huge backlash on the writer – with many who aren’t plus size also speaking out against this fatphobia. Similar to the various articles that we’ve published as well as experience through our Metabolic Tune Up Programme, the truth is that being plus size does not mean unhealthy, and the opposite is also true – being skinny does not necessarily mean that one is fit and healthy either. In response to the writer’s comment about “the obese Nike athlete is just a lie”, many plus sized women took to social media to showed that they may be plus sized but they could run marathons and do exercise regularly.


We happen to know many people who are plus size or look overweight, but are healthy and fitter than the average person! Let’s also talk about Jessamyn Stanley and Dana Falsetti – two of the world’s well known plus size yoga instructors. Who are we to say that they’re encouraging obesity and as plus sized athletes, they would probably appreciate seeing how an exercise gear is going to look on them. After all, that is what mannequins are for – to show the audience how the outfit would look like on a person. Further more, as a gym in the UK posted on Instagram, it does not make sense for Nike to receive this backlash because if you want to encourage overweight people to go to the gym, it would only make sense to make clothes in their sizes, right?



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#nike seem to be getting some undue grief for their mannequin. The complaints at that they are encouraging obesity, normalizing obesity and/or portraying a bad image of what and where we should be. Let’s be blunt. If you’re criticising what they have done you need to take yourself in a corner and give yourself a slap. Better still, pop into the the gym and I’ll do it for you! Here’s why: 1. A huge % of obese people who want to train in a gym are incredibly self conscious about what they can/cannot wear in a gym. Who are you to tell them that they should be covered up in a tracksuit and baggy t-shirt. 2. The more the overweight image is normalised within gym environments, the more likely over weight people are likely to attend. 3. However, they’re not trying to normalize over weight conditions. They are simply there saying, ‘Hi, Here’s some clothes for you that we have advertised on a mannequin’. 4. Why is it an issue for you? Do you have an issue with an over weight pearson having their midriff out? If you do I suggest that you get your head down and concentrate on your own training. 5. If you continue to think this clothing range shouldn’t be available then think about this… they can lose weight, you’ll always be a twat! #weightloss #thefitmill #THEFITMILLBLACKBURN #fitness #fatloss #excelwithin #lifestyletraining #fitness

A post shared by The FitMill – Blackburn (@fitmillblackburn) on

We need to get this right: body positivity is not about encouraging obesity. Neither is having plus size models or mannequins in store. What body positivity is about is to encourage people to feel confident and love themselves. It is only when they’re confident and feeling good about themselves will they be able to take the courage to take the steps to improve their lives.

Wellness is not only about diet and exercise. It is also the mental aspect.

Looking at the statistics, there are too many people who are struggling with eating disorders, with teens increasingly falling prey to them, in order to look “beautiful”. With all this talk about a plus size mannequin, why aren’t people up in arms about the typical mannequins, which are underweight?


Let’s stop this fat shaming, stop perpetuating the viscious cycle for those who are overweight and struggling, and spread some love and encouragement instead!


Photos: Nike and individual Instagram and Instagram accounts.



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