Just do it: Nike’s new inclusive lines are here to promote diversity in athletics

Getting off the couch and going to the gym is hard. It gets even harder when you start rolling through the long list of reasons why you can’t or don’t have to.

Two reasons that shouldn’t affect your ability to get there would be comfortable clothes that fit and respect who you are.

Nike has stepped up their famous athletic line by launching a new plus sized line for women and their Pro Hijab. Sadly, the Pro Hijab won’t be released until spring 2018.

I’m not a small girl, so finding gym clothes that fit and look good is incredibly hard. I know that looking good shouldn’t be the main focus and doesn’t have anything to do with actually working out. However, if you’re considered “curvy” or “overweight,” wearing clothes that you think make you look “sloppy” doesn’t do anything for your self confidence. And it doesn’t help you “fit in,” seeing skinny, defined people wearing technical fabrics and leggings while you’re in sweatpants and a baggy cotton t-shirt.

Not all women fit in the same range of sizes and it’s important for companies to include “plus size” options, especially since it’s such a targeted market of people who feel societal pressure to work out more and be a  more “average” size.

There are, of course, different brands that offer plus sizes or specific plus size retailers who are getting into making workout wear. But really, the biggest, most exciting part about it is that it’s Nike — a highly reputable athletic company who is actually making clothes accessible to bigger girls.

With Nike, the customer knows that they’re going to be getting quality stuff, since it happens so be dominating the Athletic market. According to Business Insider, Under Armour recently surpassed Adidas in terms of annual sales, while Nike beats out both brands by almost a 23 billion dollar difference in 2015.

At this point, Nike isn’t even focused on working out, they’re also a part of the “athleisure” aesthetic that a lot of people are into. People want comfortable leggings, shorts, tank tops and sweaters that can transition from going to yoga or a spin class, to going out for coffee and running errands without looking like you’re about to compete in a marathon.

As much as brands shouldn’t matter, they do to some people. By making their clothes more accessible to plus size women, they’re opening up a whole new market for themselves.

Going into a store and feeling dejected because I can’t fit into anything they have to offer is a crappy feeling. But knowing that I can go to Nike to buy a pair of gym shorts and not have to shop in the men’s section (which regularly goes up to size XXXXL) anymore is kind of nice.

Of course, the line is expensive, but that’s to be expected with Nike.

Another plus for the company is that they’re trying to become more inclusive and introducing their new Pro Hijab which is set to launch in their Spring 2018 line. Since that’s almost a year away, it kind of sucks, but it’s still important that they’re developing a product that endorses and encourages inclusion.

There are other companies which manufacture athletic hijabs and headwear for Muslim people, but since it’s Nike is jumping in, it’s a big game changer. Considering all the turmoil that is running through America right now, this is more of a political statement than a fashionable one, and shows that Nike isn’t standing for discrimination.

This announcements also follows a new ad campaign that the company recently released called “What will they say about you?” The 70 second ad features female Muslim athletes running, boxing, playing soccer and swimming. The voice over, spoken in Arabic, emphasizes the need for diversity, a break for stereotypes and assumptions, and the next generation’s need for inspiration. The target audience is then put in charge of taking that ideology and literally running with it.

However, there are still things that stand in some women’s ways. FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) eliminated their ban against hijabs and turbans as of 2014 and allowed players to participate while respecting their personal practices. On the other hand, other associations like FIBA (The International Basketball Federation) hold onto their claims that this kind of headwear can be a hazard to other players.

I can safely say, after years of playing soccer and having girls whip their braids and ponytails across my face and grab onto my hair, a garment that covers your head may actually reduce chances of hazards.

Bringing it back to Nike, I think having a powerhouse of the athletic world will start to change and open up the subject of inclusivity in sports and the fact that athletic associations shouldn’t discriminate and disable people from doing what they love.

Sports are supposed to be inclusive and bring people together, not make people feel left out and isolated. Being able to fit in, both in society and in the clothes themselves, and feel comfortable allows someone to be able to participate more confidently and feel like they belong. Nike’s new lines are definitely targeted towards inclusion, and it’s about time.

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