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Plus-size Nike campaign stirs controversy as critics debate what’s healthy


Nike's new line of plus-sized athletic gear on full-figured mannequins in London. (Nike)

Nike finds itself at the center of another controversy after debuting its new line of plus-sized athletic gear on full-figured mannequins in London.

While fans of the malleable workout clothes praise the athletic brand for inclusiveness, British publication the Telegraph accused Nike of encouraging narcissism and denial, while celebrating unhealthy lifestyles.

“The fat-acceptance movement, which says that any weight is healthy if it is yours, is no friend to women, even if it does seem to have found a friend in Nike. It may, instead, kill them, and that is rather worse than feeling sad,” the Guardian wrote.

The editorial further argued that rather than changing one’s diet or exercise regimen, a narcissist might argue, “There is no problem. Or if there is, it’s yours, not mine.”

That column immediately drew backlash from those who support Nike’s decision to market their gear toward a bigger audience, including actress British actress Jameela Jamil, whose Twitter exchange with The Telegraph was picked-up by ABC News. The “Good Place” actress, who launched a fashion collection in 2012, accused the British paper of “fatphobic, pointless bigoted abuse” and demanded an apology.

Rather than going the politically correct route and walking back their comments, the Telegraph doubled-down on their opinion piece on Twitter.

“The new mannequin is obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run,” the Telegraph shot back. “She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”

Nike, who saw their sales numbers jump after placing controversial, exiled NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in an ad in 2018, played this latest controversy safe.

“To showcase inclusivity and inspire the female consumer, we launched Nike Plus Size mannequins in select stores in North America in 2018 and as part of the recent launch of the new ‘Women by Nike’ floor in NikeTown London,” a Nike spokesperson told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “We continue to listen to the voice of the athlete and know that the female consumer wants to see a diverse and inclusive range of product to serve her sporting needs.”

Obesity is a growing concern in England, where hospital admissions for people with problems linked to being overweight rose 15% last year, according to the reputable UK news outlet the Guardian. That report stated 29% of English adults are obese and those weight problems contribute to strokes, heart attacks and diabetes.

In February, British lawmaker Lord Ian McColl reportedly lamented that ejector seats it fighter planes have been modified to accommodate larger pilots and that "We may have to enlarge the escape hatches of submarines to allow (overweight sailors).”