Amid all the recent turmoil around the stock market, whether the president will speak to the special prosecutor and the snow storm set to begin on Wednesday, we might have missed the story about Laurent Potdevin’s resignation as chief executive from Lululemon Athletica. The tsunami of the #metoo campaign continues to shake the foundations of chauvinism, privilege and license men think they have, to do whatever they want with a woman’s body. But this story has an interesting twist, or bend, to it.
Lululemon designs and markets clothes to “active people” – from yoga enthusiasts to runners. Athletic wear is as much about fashion as function. We have to wear workout clothes that “telegraph a value system and lifestyle,” says the New York Times. You have to look good if you expect to feel good, so your exercise outfit cannot be as simple as throwing on a pair of shorts or sweat pants. And, of course, it’s the Women’s Line that is the most demanding, and perhaps the most lucrative. But here is the story …
In 2013 the company sold black yoga pants that were so sheer that one of the four intramuscular injection sites on a women’s body was readily visible. In case you are wondering, the other three sites are the deltoid muscle, the vastus lateralis and ventrogluteal. Complaints started to roll in about issues women were having with the shear. As they returned to the stores with pants that were as substantial as single ply toilet paper, they were asked to put the pants on … and then bend over – a sort of “money back after show and tell”. The backlash was significant enough so as to cause the resignation of then-chairman Dennis J. Wilson, who designed the pants, and chief executive Christine M. Day.
Enter … Mr. Potdevin. And all was well, except that now he is leaving Lululemon because of “behavior that falls short of the athletic apparel maker’s standards of conduct.” It is widely assumed this is a euphemism for inappropriate sexual behavior.
We are making progress; but we have a long way to go. It is said the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice; the arc of a man’s behavior has to stop bending toward any organ (or muscle) other than his brain and the respect every woman deserves.
One final thought … If it isn’t obvious, let me say that great care was taken in the choice of image for the top of this piece.