An Open Letter to Athleta

July 13th, 2017

Athleta, can we be real?

After reading Robin’s take on body positivity regarding Dove and the work it’s doing, I decided it’s time for me to put in my two cents on how your company is taking body positive companies like Dove’s three steps forward, eight steps backward.

As a fan of your sister stores like Gap and Old Navy, I have always believed in you. I never saw any scandals from you. You were just a really cool athletic company … or so I thought.

One of your spokespeople said, “Inclusivity is core to who we are as a brand.”

But how can that be true if you won’t even show plus size women on your website.

You don’t have a single model above a size four modeling clothes for women who wear sizes 12-18. This is disappointing, especially after seeing many ads for your “Power of She” campaign, championing the fact that “athletes come in all shapes and sizes.”

You see, several years ago, we flocked to you when the Lululemon CEO told us, “Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for [Lululemon].” Many women were shocked and horrified that a company would make such a comment. Athleta, we came to you to feel comfortable in our own skin and not to be judged, while the competition’s CEO was telling us that we were too fat for its clothing – as if plus size women weren’t allowed to work out. Little did we know you weren’t as accepting as we hoped you would be.

What is so confusing, though, is that we all see your sister brand, Old Navy, and are pleased by their use of diversely shaped models. So why is it so hard for you to get on board?

The thing clothing brands often overlook is that inclusivity sells. As shoppers at stores like Lululemon and Athleta, all we want is a trusted pair of leggings that won’t rip or be too see-through to wear to the gym or to the grocery store. We don’t want to feel judged by the store providing those for us.

The size of the average woman is a size 12/14. Athleta carries these sizes, but won’t promote them. I believe you need to have more of an “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” mentality when it comes to not only the words in your marketing campaigns, but in every aspect of promoting your company. I am not asking you to be somebody you aren’t. You carry the sizes and have a plus size section, embrace it.

As for your comment that their customers will “start to see meaningful changes in upcoming seasons,” I guess we’ll have to wait and see what changes will be made. Because as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

With much disappointment,
Body Positive Women Everywhere