Cultural news : Addressing the fatphobia of the Telegraph’s article

The telegraph article nike

On June 11th, the Telegraph published a piece about the new plus size mannequin added to the Nike London flagship store. The mannequin in question was wearing the new plus size range with the message “Welcome to the mainstream” written on the leggings. The goal is clear : the brand is creating a larger offer in order to be more inclusive and allow persons with different body types to shop the brand’s products.

Where most people would see that as a great step towards inclusion, the author of the article saw in this initiative a disguised way of promoting obesity as a healthy thing. According to her, by showcasing a plus size mannequin wearing plus size sport apparel, the brand is clearly pushing people to see obesity as a trendy thing.

Under the guise of health concerns, what the article does in reality is trying to discredit the body positivity movement, shaming fat people but most of all, it’s digging the social gap that has been designed to insidiously exclude fat people from the rest of the society.

‘She heaves with fat [...] She is not readying herself for a run. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.’

In addition to be very insensitive, this piece is also completely judgmental and insulting. Some will argue that the author is only talking about a mannequin but in fact, what she is commenting on is the body image of fat people in public places, as if that was not something worthy of representation, as if representing fat people was inappropriate.

Should we deny the right to wear proper work out clothes to people over a certain weight? Should practicing a sport be only for people with a certain body type? Because if we believe what’s written in this article, by offering the possibility to buy sport clothes to people with different body types, we are selling a lie : we are making them feel like they’re “normal” - how wrong are we ! Let’s just let them wander the streets naked while we’re at it !

‘The obese Nike athlete is just another lie. Fat-acceptance is an artifice of denial’

Since when have acceptance and inclusion become synonym of promoting unhealthy behaviors? And how would exclusion help solve any problems? History has at many occasions proven that it doesn’t work. What’s unhealthy however is that incessant - uncontrollable even - need to comment on everyone’s bodies, grant yourself the right to decide what’s best for others and think that the truth lies in your words and opinion.

Should we also underline the nonsense of an article that denies the access to clothes that are made for sport practice, to people who would benefit from it - if we focus on the health matter like the article pretends to.

‘So, it worries me to see Nike, who promote athleticism, treating the obese model as potentially healthy in the cause of profit.’


Behind these so called good intentions, this pretended will to protect people from health issues, there is obviously quite a big fatphobia message that the author didn’t do such a great job hiding. Reactions were pretty strong on social media, pointing the finger at an article that promotes such hatred and exclusion towards a group of people. But one question remains : why a media like The Telegraph would choose to publish such a controversial piece?

by Jessica Ayinda


MEDIAJessica Ayinda