Last week, Nike unveiled a plus-size mannequin at its flagship London store, with many people praising the retailer for displaying a realistic body type instead of the usual stick-thin kind seen in shops.
Of course, there were some people who criticised the move, saying it promoted obesity, but for the most part, the conversation centred around body positivity.
At least, it did, until one writer penned a scathing critique of the mannequin, and now plus-size influencers are fighting back.
Writing in the Telegraph, Tanya Gold claims the mannequin is obese and does not represent a healthy person: "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."
I'm a little heated. #nike @Nike added plus-sized mannequins to their stores. And people are OUTRAGED! Why? You want us to workout or you don't want us to workout? This is just #fatphobia #hypocrisy pic.twitter.com/rJwa4TFacU— Cassie (@CassieJV1992) June 11, 2019
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, plus-size model Hayley Hasselhoff praised Nike for introducing the mannequin: "It’s all about size inclusivity. You want to walk into a store and see yourself represented.
"We get so judged walking into a gym. Nike is saying, ‘We support your journey and fitness goals.'"
Even presenter Piers Morgan, who in the past has criticised models like Tess Holliday for normalising obesity, agreed: "My main argument against the likes of Tess Holliday is you should be spending more time trying to get your weight down and get fit, and I think Nike are encouraging that.
"Surprisingly, I thought, ‘Actually, good on Nike.'"
On Instagram, another plus-size model and influencer, Callie Thorpe, wrote a long post pointing out the hypocrisy of the backlash, and how it’s an example of ‘fatphobia’ – the fear or dislike of obesity or obese people.
She wrote: "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."
On Twitter, Michelle Allison aka The Fat Nutritionist, went even further, saying in a series of tweets that fatphobia, "needs fat people to exist, but it specifically needs us to exist in misery", because it enables fatphobic people to feel better about themselves.
She concluded: "Fatphobia does not want us to exercise joyfully and comfortably, because it does not want us to experience being fully alive, doing things that build us up and give us pleasure.
"It erects barriers around us, and then yells at us for staying inside. The hypocrisy is the point."
I feel like I wrote a thread on this in the past, but I can't find it. So here's a brief recap: I used to think fatphobia wanted fat people to exercise, because it is always yelling at us, "You should get some exercise!" But I no longer believe this is what fatphobia wants.— Michelle Allison (@fatnutritionist) June 10, 2019
Other Twitter users have been posting about their own athletic achievements in order to point out how inaccurate it is to say that someone of the Nike mannequin’s size ‘cannot run’. "I’m chunkier than that Nike mannequin but apparently I ‘cannot run’… and yet I somehow completed the London marathon this year," wrote Liz Rees.
It’s encouraging to see something positive resulting from an extremely negative opinion piece.
While some people suspect Gold was purposefully trying to rile readers up, she’s actually succeeding in galvanising body positivity advocates as people come together to stand up for themselves in the face of fatphobia.