After years of campaigning for greater representation in fashion, more brands are introducing diverse clothing lines, products and even mannequins. Last week, Nike became the latest fashion giant to make the changes, introducing a size-16 dummy to its London flagship store on Oxford St.
The move coincided with the launch of the renovated women's floor, which now offers "extended offerings of plus-sizes", women's team kits and customised sportswear.
"To celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of sport, the space will not just celebrate local elite and grassroot athletes through visual content, but also show Nike plus size and para-sport mannequins for the first time on a retail space", the company said in a press release.
However, it has been met with as much criticism as praise online, with some celebrating the diversity Nike is bringing to fashion after decades of brands using size-8 mannequins, while others accuse the brand of normalising obesity.
NIKE supporting obesity 😳.— Khaled Emms Ponera 🇿🇦🇹🇿 (@khaledponera) June 7, 2019
It is an argument that has raged both on and offline for years, the so-called "fat acceptance" movement going one step further than body positivity - which advocates for acceptance of all bodies, regardless of size or appearance - in trying to minimise the link between obesity and conditions like diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
I'm all for equality but come on now, we need something to aspire to become... We don't need to aspire to become fat!! Its bad enough we will all get there someday.— Michael Kramer (@WolfyKramer) June 7, 2019
While those in that camp will say "big is beautiful", critics say that such advocates are normalising or even promoting obesity.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Tanya Gold emerged as one of the most vocal and fervent critics of the decision, assessing the new mannequins in light of what she sees as a deadly endorsement of weight.
"The new Nike mannequin is not size 12, which is healthy, or even 16 – a hefty weight, yes, but not one to kill a woman. She is immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat", she writes.
Commenting on the mannequin's pose, which shows her in the middle of a stretch, she added "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".
Gold rebukes the fat acceptance argument, calling it a solution for a "narcissist" and a "modern" one at that.
However, for many people, this is a welcome result after many years asking for better representation in fashion.
It's more important to be healthy than it is to be skinny. Anything that promotes a healthy lifestyle is a plus in my book. Positive body image is important to mental health. Big is beautiful too.— Ian Lee Rockwell (@IanLeeRockwell) June 7, 2019
I’ll never understand the people who hate on this and say it promotes obesity. Do you want fat people to have workout clothing or would you prefer them to stay fat and just wear big shirts and sweats?— mercedes. (@KissMyLocs) June 7, 2019
This is awesome. Always knew Nike was one step ahead and this proves it .... not everyone has a slim body to start exercising ... thank you Nike For recognising us ‘normal’ people— Intuitive Diane (@intuitive_diane) June 7, 2019