Chip Wilson has more thoughts on women’s bodies that he’d like to share. The Lululemon founder and former CEO left the company in 2013, but has a history of saying some wildly problematic things — like, yoga pants don’t "work" for women who have thighs that touch, and birth control pills are causing divorce rates to spike. In a recent interview in Outdoor Voices’ new zine and digital platform, called The Recreationalist, fellow activewear founder Ty Haney asked Wilson about his outdated views.
On a hike in Vancouver, Haney explained to Wilson that "the younger generation wants to show their bodies in any forms and shapes and sizes" and we "don’t give a shit about cellulite." Lululemon was founded in 1998, at a time when attitudes towards bodies and fitness were very different. Beyond Wilson’s comments, the brand has been criticised for not carrying extended sizes. Haney asked Wilson what it’s been like to witness that shift.
"I think that many people have, since the beginning of time, gotten wrapped up in something called 'looking good,'" Wilson told The Recreationalist. But Activewear brands today, such as Outdoor Voices, have shifted their brand focus away from the aesthetic benefits of exercise. Because there are plenty of very good reasons to exercise that have absolutely nothing to do with the way that you look.
Then, Wilson said that if you’re "inauthentic about yourself, everyone can see it," and he believes that everyone is currently "fooling themselves." When Lululemon was founded, people were moving a lot more because there wasn’t "the digital," he added. Haney asked him to clarify if he thinks "all this digital-tech shit" is making us lazy. "Yes, and it’s making us fat. People can hide it from themselves," he said. Whew…
The rest of the conversation is pretty fascinating, and Haney prefaced it by saying there were things about Wilson's approach that she agrees with and others that she disagrees with. They discuss being a leader, how Wilson could’ve designed sports bras without having boobs himself, and even maternity leave policies. Wilson said that since all of his employees at Lululemon were women, he anticipated "I was going to have a massive maternity issue." Women at Lululemon were expected to have open conversations about their plans because there wasn't a guarantee that they'd have a job when they came back, he said. "The world moves too quickly," he said. "If you’re in some fantasy that you’re going to have that same job when you return, you’re wrong." Haney, as it so happens, recently announced that she is pregnant with her first child.
Not all of Wilson’s comments in the interview were totally cringeworthy. At the end, he told Haney that "someone needs to stand up for women now. I don’t think it can be a man." Don't worry, we're doing things.