The Nike flagship store in London has revamped its women’s department to include plus-size and para-sport mannequins, highlighting an extended line of clothing to “celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of sport,” the company said.
Sarah Hannah, Nike’s general manager and vice president for women in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, said, “With the incredible momentum in women’s sport right now, the redesigned space is just another demonstration of Nike’s commitment to inspiring and serving the female athlete,” according to CNN.
While many observers cheered the company for presenting realistic body types and encouraging body positivity, others criticized it, saying that Nike was promoting an “unhealthy lifestyle,” according to ABC News.
An editorial in the Telegraph argued that “obese mannequins are selling women a dangerous lie.” The editorial sparked swift backlash online, with actress and activist Jameela Jamil tweeting: “What a hateful, judgemental, uneducated stance to take on what is a positive, progressive and BRILLIANT move made by Nike.”
THE @Telegraph OWE EVERYONE AN APOLOGY FOR THEIR WRITER USING THEIR PLATFORM TO INCITE HATRED. This is bullying and bigotry. This level of a hateful rhetoric would never be allowed towards another race/religion/culture. Why are fat bodies fair game for explicit, harmful abuse? https://t.co/tNbfjDUWQs
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) June 9, 2019
A spokesperson for Nike told Good Morning America that its mission is to “serve all athletes” regardless of size.
The move by Nike follows a recent controversy that came after a New York Times piece claimed the company reduced or withheld payment from female athletes who were pregnant or had recently given birth. As a result, two congresswomen said they were pressing the company for details about its treatment of sponsored female athletes.
Nike said in a statement on its site, “We have learned and grown in how to best support our female athletes and have always worked to do our best to play a strong role in championing, celebrating, and supporting female athletes. Last year we standardized our approach across all sports to support our female athletes during pregnancy, but we recognize we can go even further. Moving forward, our contracts for female athletes will include written terms that reinforce our policy.”