Update - A Real-Life Response from Lululemon

As I mentioned in my

blog post

yesterday, a brave and gorgeous friend of mine wrote a heartfelt letter in September to lululemon expressing her disappointment at not being able to fit into their sizing.

With her permission, here is the amazing Dani Fecko's letter to lululemon, and lululemon's response, which can be summarized as, "not changing our sizing structure, but we'll take your feedback into consideration."  I received the identical response when I wrote to them in 2007 - so I guess they're still getting around to taking my feedback into consideration.  Sorry about the highlighting, haven't figured out why it's there or how to get rid of it...

Sent: Sep 16, 2013 8:44:00 PM 

Subject: Disappointment 

Dear Lululemon, 

I'm writing to express my concern at your severe mismanagement of 

expectations. I'm going through a change in my lifestyle right now. I let 

work rule my life for many years, and was not healthy. Now, I have a 

wedding coming up and am working to make fitness a priority. Im watching 

what I eat and I'm working out at least four times a week. I feel awesome. 

I'm revisiting my yoga practice now and I'm really enjoying it. I get to a 

yoga or pilates class at least twice a week and I bike or run at least 

three times a week. I don't feel any pressure from my classmates or 

teachers to look or feel a certain way. I'm doing what's right for me and 

moving at my own pace. I feel like Im really moving along and am more 

comfortable in my skin than I have been in a long time. 

At least I was until I went into your store looking for a new yoga top. It 

was my understanding, based on your company values, that Lululemon is a 

company that stands for inclusion, joy and being healthy. It seems that you 

can only participate in those values, and in trying to get healthy, if you 

wear a size 12 or lower. It would seem that your actual values are quite 

different than what you preach: only people who look healthy now can wear 

your clothes, even if they only wear them to buy groceries. Those of us who 

are not the ideal “lululemon shape” but are working on themselves, to feel 

and be healthier, may not be seen in your clothes. 

I have fit into Lululemon clothes in the past. In fact, I have some pants 

that have stretched out that I still wear. Needless to say, I'll be looking 

for new ones. And when I am a size 12,and then size 10 and then size 8 

again, I won't be coming back to your store. Because I believe in 

practicing what I preach. And I'm working to get healthier – not to fit 

some store's ideal body type. 

With great disappointment, 

Dani Fecko

And here's the response:


lululemon athletica



Date: Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Subject: RE: Disappointment (#2046-380799686-0948)

To: Danielle Fecko 

Hi Dani, 

Thank you for taking the time to write to lululemon athletica. 

Currently our size range is 2 - 12 (or XXS – XL) for women and S-XXL for men. Our goal is to elevate the level of health and fitness in every community we touch and we recognize that people who are passionate about health and fitness come in all shapes and sizes. At this time, we don’t have plans to change our current sizing structure. However, we are a culture based on feedback and are our design team is committed to reviewing guest feedback on an ongoing basis. We are passionate about product innovation and will take your thoughts into consideration as we continue to develop new product that support the sweaty pursuits of our guests. Thank you again for reaching out and sharing your feedback. 

Warm regards, 


lululemon athletica 

Guest Education Centre 

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1 (877) 263-9300


(604) 215-9300


(604) 638-1200

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creating components for people to live a long, healthy, and fun life 

Size Matters.

It seems to me to me like Business 101: if someone repeatedly makes requests to buy your product, then you can probably assume that if you make it available, they will buy it, and you will make money.  If you choose not to make that product available to the people requesting it, then there's something else going on.  You are choosing to exclude that market for a reason, usually one to do with what you may call "corporate strategy" or "brand positioning" but what some people, especially those affected, may call just plain prejudice.

Popular American retailer Abercrombie & Fitch came under fire last year when its CEO, Mike Jeffries explained to Salon magazine the company's decision to limit its sizing to Sizes 0 to 10 as part of a corporate-wide strategy to appeal to the "cool" and "attractive" kids, not just implying that if you didn't fit in a Size 10 or smaller, you weren't cool but actually saying their clothes were not for the "fat kids."   Chip Wilson, founder of lululemon, noted in a recent interview with Bloomberg TV that "some women's bodies just don't work" with their clothing.  

Ignorant comments such as those made by Jeffries or Wilson are not something new to me.    I have been called fat my whole life - even when I wasn't fat.  I can't remember how young I was when I was first called fat by other kids - I literally can't remember a time when that didn't happen.  I have a picture of a gorgeous 6 year old Dani on my fridge who could never be called fat - and yet that's what was happening at school.  And when you hear something often, you start to believe it, and live it.  I was fat, so I ate.  And the insult became the reality.  As a teenager I wanted nothing more than to wear the same clothes as my girlfriends and despaired when, as a 17 year old Size 12, with boobs and hips and a butt, I couldn't fit into the same "baby tees" or low rise jeans.  I cried many times in mall dressing rooms feeling fat and unattractive.   I went on Weight Watchers for the first time when I was 13, and actually did quite well with the program, but I endured taunts from classmates throughout elementary and high school, regardless of how thin/fat I was at the time, because I had already been labelled "the fat girl."   Kids who didn't have better comebacks in our juvenile disagreements often resorted to "Well - you're FAT" to end the discussion.  And it usually did, with me in tears.   

This prejudice did not go away as I got older. I matured, but society didn't.  If I refuse to give money to a panhandler in my Gastown neighbourhood, they will shout after me that I'm fat. I've had drunk guys whose advances I have ignored shout about how fat I am as I walk away from them.  I met a record industry insider in the early 2000s when I was younger and desperate for a career as a singer who told me that the reality was, I didn't look like Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears and that's what I'd need to look like to make it as a singer.   I've been routinely overlooked for parts in theatre because of how I look - even in my early 20s I was being thrown into the "mother" or "old lady" or "funny girl" boat, because how do you cast a big girl, no matter how bright her smile, as the ingenue*?  Regardless of whether I've been a size 8, 12, 16, 18 - and I've been them all - these issues still affect me in my adult life.  The "fat" label, once affixed, is hardly ever removed.   And sometimes we keep it there ourselves: I know even when I've been wearing a Size 2, and been sick and green from starving myself, I've looked in the mirror and still seen a fat person.  

So, no, that companies don't want to make clothes for fat people isn't news to me, but perfectly in keeping with my experience as a big person.   I don't feel the need to make immediate indignant retorts on Facebook when people like Jeffries or Wilson show their true colours.  The message isn't new:  Fat isn't cool.  Curvy isn't cool.  Thin is correct.  It is beautiful. Thin is fit, and healthy, and there is no other possible definition of what "fit" or "healthy" can mean.  And if companies like Abercrombie and Fitch and lululemon would prefer not to cater to myself or other women who do not fit their size charts, it is their prerogative and I don't have to shop there.   

Still, I feel it keenly when a dear friend who I think is beautiful and amazing writes a brave letter to lululemon asking why she can't buy a shirt in their store to wear to her regular Pilates workouts, and receives a flip response about why she does not fit their image of a "target guest."  I feel bad for my male friends who have subjected themselves to gruelling workouts and horrendous diets of shakes and pills to live up to some image of "maleness."  I have lived this frustration.  I've cried those tears, I've fought those battles.  17 year old me would be bitterly disappointed not to have the same clothes as all of my friends.  33 year old me sees it as an opportunity to scour the Interwebs for cool brands and designers who no one else has.  It hurts me, but I also have tools at my disposal (mainly income) to help me cope.

So, some women's bodies, bigger women's bodies, "don't work" for Chip Wilson.  This isn't news. 

What is news to me, and saddening, is how people who I consider intelligent, sensitive and educated - people who know me, and know other bigger people - accept these messages and reinforce them, without a thought to how they affect people they claim to respect and care for.   What is news to me is how people who have experienced weight issues themselves, once resolved, show little empathy for others.  What is news to me is that the media onslaught of "thin is beautiful" has been internalized so much that smart, caring people reduce weight issues to two causes: gluttony, or laziness, and thus justify exclusions like those made by lululemon and A & F ("Well, if you want to wear these clothes, don't be so lazy.  Don't be so fat"), when the reality is that size and weight are so much more complicated, difficult, and sensitive issues.

When the Abercrombie & Fitch story came out, I posted a link to the story on my Facebook and said, "Thanks Abercrombie & Fitch, thanks to companies like you I spent most of my teenage years crying in dressing rooms."  I was half kidding, but also serious.  A firestorm of comments followed, in which a friend who had lost a considerable amount of weight (and was, in my opinion as a person who has had every kind of eating disorder under the sun at some point or another, unhealthily fixated on her "new"body and "new" self) stated that I should suck it up - that if I wanted to wear A & F, I should just lose weight, or shut up about it.  A man who had actually dated me, and so whom I feel reasonably confident in saying thought I was attractive, felt the need to wade in on the comment thread and explain why he preferred thin women.   The majority of comments basically expressed that size was that simple: thin is good, fat is bad, and if you want to be thin, don't eat so damn much.  Go for a run.  And if you're fat, you deserve to be excluded and shouldn't complain.  I was willing to wade into this debate, and hear my friends' positions, as appallingly insensitive as I thought they were being (two of those who commented de-friended me after our exchange of comments, incidentally - so perhaps they were more sensitive than I thought?), in the hopes that maybe I could educate them on what it's like to live in my shoes (a "regular" size 7, in case you're wondering.  My feet aren't fat). 

So today, I read lots of posts by people appalled by Chip Wilson's comments about women's thighs, in particular - and that women's thighs "rubbing together" may be the reason their pants' quality has declined in recent years.   What was disappointing to me however were the social media comments that did NOT find his comments appalling and size-ist: 

 "No man can wear a Speedo either." 

Why not? 

"Of course he's right, some people shouldn't wear those pants."

Who are "some people"?

"I don't understand why people think that every company has to cater to the needs of every body shape around.  If you're plus size you won't look good in it, don't buy it." 

Great - but how come it's always the larger people who don't have a right to be "catered to"?  And who's making an alternative? Oh, nobody?  That's helpful.

"Exactly.  Some people shouldn't wear these clothes.  Period." 

Sorry, who are these "some people" again?  You mean bigger people?

"Plus-size people should stop complaining and get to the gym."

Thanks,  I'll slot it in after my third trip of the day to McDonalds.

Well, I can't help myself.  I feel the need to point out, for Chip, Mike and others, the following:

1.  You don't have to be "plus size" (defined as size 16 and up) to not have a gap between your thighs.   Here's a great article from Slate on that topic.  

2.  It's not plus size people's complaints that Chip is responding to, because lululemon does not make plus size clothes.  Their largest size is a Size 12, and that is only available in limited styles.  I wear tons of lululemon stuff, and there is also tons of lululemon stuff I can't wear.  For instance, most lulu shirts and hoodies feature extremely long and thin arms that just don't fit my chubby, stumpy arms.  

3.  People who do not fit into lululemon or A & F are not necessarily lazy unhealthy people.  My friend who wrote the letter to lululemon is not what I would even call plus size.  She walks, bikes, does yoga and Pilates, but just cannot fit her gorgeous sexy boobs into one of their shirts.  

4.  Fat people like to exercise too.  I do yoga every day.  I dance, I run, I hike.  I am not by any means exceptional in this.   And fat people who like to exercise also like to have clothes to wear while they are doing said exercise.  Sometimes fat people who exercise will, like some of my friends (and like me at some points in my life), turn into thin people who exercise.  Sometimes they won't.  In my book, if they're trying to be healthy, then that's OK, and they should be able to buy a pair of pants to try to be healthy in.

5.  Fat people have jobs and have money to spend in retail therapy, the same as anyone else.  Fat people like shopping when they can find stuff that fits them, and like to look good.  We would be outraged if The Gap said it wanted to exclude, let's say, all people with acne from wearing their clothes.  We wouldn't consider that socially acceptable.  So why is it socially acceptable (or defensible, or explainable) to exclude people based on body type?

 6.  People who are not thin may be so for reasons out of their control and for which they do not "deserve" to be shamed.  Hormones, emotional issues, health conditions, genetics - these are all things that affect weight and shape.   Mike Jeffries and Chip Wilson are not in a position where they can know the story of every potential customer they alienate with their comments.  However, you (my friends, my readers) are in a position to know, or to ask, why the people in your life may choose, or not choose, to be the size that they are.  You are in the privileged position of being able to ask, listen, empathize and accept.  The idea that if you're not thin you're doing something wrong, is well…wrong.   And if you accept that idea, or the real-life consequences of that idea (like the exclusionary policies of companies like lululemon and A & F), then you are doing your friends of all sizes a disservice.

So, no, it's not the comments of people like Mike Jeffries and Chip Wilson that bother me.  I'm bothered by the friends I have who aren't bothered by them.   I'm bothered by the people who buy into one idea of beauty.  I'm bothered about how size-ist attitudes demonstrated by retailers get reflected in the media, and then get reflected in popular culture, so that people find it perfectly OK to judge or place value on someone because of size (or lack thereof).  I'm bothered that looks can limit anyone, in their career, in love, in life.  And I'm mostly bothered that my damn yoga pants are see-through. 

And to all the retailers out there - I like to shop, I have money to spend, and given that I do yoga every day, I need a lot of yoga pants.  Make me a pair that fit, that make me feel good, and that aren't see-through or full of holes within a month (like my last few pairs of lulus) and you'll have my money.  Simple as that.  

*I have also been wonderfully cast against type and given fantastic opportunities to play the ingenue or romantic lead by directors who value talent over conventional beauty.  I will never forget director Matthew Bissett gently admonishing me when I was lamenting about how I was not going to get a particular part because I wasn't thin and pretty, that perhaps I should leave the directing to directors who may, in fact, know better than me.  And in some cases, including Matthew's, they have, and shown confidence in me where I have not had confidence in myself.

UPDATE:  If you'd like to read my friend Dani Fecko's letter to lululemon and their response, you can click here