Update 3.22.16 - This post has gone viral. Lululemon has reached out and we have discussed what happened at the store. I am awaiting a statement from them, which I'll post here.
Update 3.23.16 - The following is a statement from Carolyn Manning, Director of US Brand and Community for Lululemon. We had a nice conversation and I told her that in hindsight, I acknowledge the post was pretty emotionally fueled. (I was fired up!) But from the comments from people who work at Lulu or who own the pants, I've learned that the pants were not created for a thigh gap. My issue, therefore, should not have been with the leggings, but rather, with the misinformation I'd received about the leggings from the sales associates at the store. We both agreed that had she been in my shoes, she would've left with the same bad taste in her mouth. She agreed to put together a statement, which I've published below. It means a lot to me that they acknowledged not only my experience, but the experiences that many of you shared in the comments section below this post.
I’m really grateful to Candace for sharing her experience. And to so many of you for contributing to the conversation.
We are fortunate to have so many guests who share our passion for lululemon and take the time to share their experiences - especially the less than stellar moments that remind us we can always be better.
I started at lululemon when there were eight stores in the US and our commitment to community and quality has never wavered. We are committed to it now more than ever.
We design our product with sweaty endeavors in mind first and foremost. We’re focused on designing for performance during your workout -- and not for any specific body shape
Candace’s experience is not what we stand for as a brand and we are committed to providing our teams with the technical product knowledge they need to educate our guests and communities.
Thank you to Lululemon for reaching out and for taking a call with me, and acknowledging there's some work to do with supporting and educating their sales staff. Thank you, readers, for sharing your experiences and thoughts. There is power in sharing your thoughts and experiences, so thank you to everyone who did that.
WARNING: There are a few swears in this post. Also, apparently ladders are helpful for fish, who knew?!
I had this incredible English teacher who once told me I wasn't as dumb as I look.
That sounds like a real jackass thing to say, but I guess you had to know him to really understand that he said it with kind intentions. He had this very wry sense of humor, and I knew his words were underscored with affection.
For the most part, I always believed in myself, but when there were times when I'd start second guessing myself, I'd remember that English class. We'd all sit in our desks in a circle, and I'd add some clever little quip to the class discussion and he'd say, "Candace, haha, I like that! You know, you're not as dumb as you look!" and we'd all roar in laughter.
Lululemon, I am your target demographic. In fact, I'd argue that winning my business would be hugely advantageous to you, because not only am I a millennial, but I am a millennial whose life's work revolves around wellness and fitness. This blog welcomes 2.6 million readers a year, and over 147,000 social media followers. We could have something good going. Something like the first time we met, do you remember?
For a while, we had a brief love affair, you and me. I bought your hundred dollar wunder unders because they were thick and had reinforced flat double stitching. They had a diamond gusset and a thick, wide waistband. The fabric was opaque and had the perfect amount of compression - not too much so that the seams would leave marks, but enough to feel secure and supported. These were the holy grail of leggings. No Old Navy or Target pair could hold a flame to these bad boys.
A fabulous pair of leggings might seem like something unremarkable to an outsider, but I will be the first to say, and I know that the women reading this are likely nodding in agreement: the right pair of leggings can make you feel like a million bucks.
I felt so good wearing your leggings. I could wear them with my favorite boots and booties and heels and sneakers and feel fantastic. Seven years later, they are only now starting to show their wear despite hundreds and hundreds of washes. Lulu, our love affair was feverishly passionate. I bought four pairs. They were the best pair of leggings I ever owned.
But then your ego took over. You outsourced. The quality rapidly declined. We all remember the Great Lululemon Collapse when your leggings were see-through and your CEO made some horrendous remarks about who belonged in Lulu pants. I was disgusted by the comments, by the greed, by the piss poor quality of your clothing, but the PR pros rushed in to save the day. They brought in a new face, and recalled the poorly made pants. I wanted to believe in you like you believe in your first love. The one who stole your heart but then messed up along the way. The one you look back on with fond memories and know that deep down, despite all the stupid mistakes, the person was a good one.
I am one for forgiveness. I wanted to believe in you. So I didn't say much on my very public platform. I was honest and said I didn't think the quality was what it used to be, but I didn't go as far as to condemn the entire brand and encourage people to stop shopping there. I kept mostly to myself because I held out hope that we could get back to the way things were, a lot like the way you sometimes want to rekindle things with an old flame.
I'm not as dumb as I look.
If you follow me on snapchat (@yogaby_candace), you might even scratch your head and say, 'Oh I dunno, Candace, you look pretty dumb,' because I'm silly. It's in my nature. I like to sing and do accents and tell the people I don't know about the funniest parts of my day. I'm kind of a weirdo. And to an outsider, that might look dumb.
But I'm not as dumb as I look.
I know this because I've managed to somehow build a viable business around something I love. I know this because I self produced a yoga DVD (in which I wore a high quality Lululemon top and bottom). I know this because I somehow managed to write a book and get it published. And when I was shopping for outfits to wear for the photoshoot for my book, I thought I might have a full circle, a-ha Oprah moment and we could come together once again. Maybe I could wear something of yours and, after all this time, see that I was right: you truly are as good as you once were.
So I went into your store. The girls pounced, asking what I was shopping for.
"I'm looking for something to wear to my yoga photoshoot," I said, as I ran my hand wistfully over the neatly folded wunder under capris.
"Oh! Well you should try these," said one of the enthusiastic girls as she held out a pair of teal pants. "They're designed to give you a thigh gap and-"
"Wait, what?!" I asked, cocking my head to the side with a smile because surely this had to be a joke.
"Ha, yeah, I know, right?! It's like an instant thigh gap without the surgery!"
You can have surgery for a thigh gap? I wondered.
"Try them on, you'll love them!" she said, and ushered me into the changing room.
Now, here's the thing. I don't really want a thigh gap. I've been lifting weights and I've put on muscle. Glorious muscle. Strong muscle. Hard muscle. Well, sort of hard. I'm working on it. I've done this because I want to feel good, and right now, strong feels good to me. Having put on a decent amount of muscle in the last few months, I feel like there is very little I can't do. Do you know how empowering that is to feel like you can do everything all by yourself?
I used to want a thigh gap. There were days when I wished for toothpick legs. When I all but killed myself on the treadmill so I could be just the right amount of skinny. Not too skinny, mind you. Just the right amount. But you know that saying that goes, 'Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?'
I want to talk with whoever wrote that up because skinny, to me, felt like a constant state of hanger. I felt anxious, defensive, and irritable. Who wants to feel like that?! Looking back, all these things were probably because I was just hungry!
But jokes aside, your thigh gap leggings are capitalizing on this idea that so many women have - that they just aren't good enough as they are. That they will only be good enough once they hit their magic number, or can fit into their skinny clothes. Creating leggings that change the shape of your leg and create an empty space between your thighs sends the message that right now, what they have isn't good enough. You're capitalizing on their insecurities.
And that, Lulu, is fucked up.
For so long, I wanted to believe you were different. Better than that.
But you have let me down time and time again.
And the thing is, I'm not as dumb as I look, and I'll tell you a secret. My tribe of women who shop your store? We are not as dumb as we look. We can spot you preying on our insecurities a mile away.
And this time, I'm calling you out.
I will not be purchasing your thigh gap leggings. I will not be purchasing any leggings from your store from now on, so long as you continue down this path. Will I throw out my still-good wunder unders? No. That would be a waste of money and quality leggings that still have a bit of life to them.
But I will urge you to reconsider your designs because we really don't need pants that physically manipulate our skin to create a thigh gap. We need pants that make us feel great in the skin we're in. We need fabric that is thick and opaque, and seams we can count on to not rip. We need the perfect amount of compression so they support and retain their shape, and a gusset for comfort. We need wide waistbands that lay comfortably flat on our skin. We need reliable pants that move with us, that lift us up and say, "Yes, girl! You can be, do, and have anything you put your mind to and work towards!"
We need pants that we can use to transition from errands to the gym to brunch dates with our girlfriends. We need quality, durable pants that we can wear, worry-free, as we conquer our fears and insecurities and set out to do all the things we have always dreamed of like hiking in Peru, running to the city hall and registering our business, and humanitarian work in Haiti. We are movers and shakers and doers, and people who want to make a difference, so offering us thigh gap pants is like offering a ladder to a fish. We have no use for that shit.
No, we are not as dumb as we look.
And because we are not as dumb as we look, we are powerful. Powerful beyond measure. We have money we will spend elsewhere and voices that will not be silenced by marketing campaigns and products designed to make us feel anything less than the badass beauties we are.
I wanted to believe in you so badly. But sometimes there is truth in those silly little sayings you see floating around pinterest.
Never let an old flame burn you twice.