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To Lululemon: These Words on Your Bag Hurt People With Chronic Illness

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Dear Lululemon,

I recently bought my husband some workout gear for his birthday. Let’s be honest; it makes for the perfect work from home attire since that is all anyone is doing these days. As I packed his red reusable bag filled with tissue paper, I found myself reading the bolded white words, messages and mottos of your company. One particular sentence right in the middle of your bag slapped me right in the face and made me want to take out my husband’s gifts and tear them to shreds.

“Stress is related to 99% of all illness.”

I felt physically nauseous as I tried to digest what my eyes had just read on your bag. Let’s clear this up, Lululemon, shall we? You are saying that 99% of all illness is related to stress? Do I have this right? Except, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

I searched the internet and medical journals, high and low, and your statistic was nowhere to be found. I did find a handful of “stress-gurus” citing the CDC to claim 90% of illnesses are stress-related, but none of them included a citation or even a link. Odd. However, I did locate an article from 2007 on psychological stress and disease, stating, “Despite the widespread public belief that psychological stress leads to disease, the biomedical community remains skeptical of this conclusion.” That seems more like it.

But let’s pretend you have a reputable source that claims 99% of all illness is related to stress. Let’s not pretend you don’t know what you are implying with this claim. You are saying that if someone buys your clothes to work out or do yoga, they will decrease their stress and therefore only have to worry about that pesky 1% of illnesses. You hear that, people? Lululemon can cure your illnesses! And here I was just thinking I was buying a birthday present.

Lulu, this statement is so harmful. As someone with a chronic illness, I can’t tell you how many times our community has to hear how their illness is all in their head, or if they did yoga or ate differently, that might cure them. We are constantly made to feel that we are somehow responsible for our illness. We are not. And, I won’t let a ridiculous red bag tell me differently.

Shame on you, Lululemon, for displaying such an erroneous, hurtful, and harmful statistic front and center on your bag. You claim you are all for promoting a healthy lifestyle, inside and out. If so, then I challenge you to put your money where your mouth is and remove this statistic from your bags, stores, and social media. Until then, I certainly won’t be buying from your store ever again.


A Fibromyalgia Warrior

Originally published: December 1, 2020
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