Lately I’ve been thinking about how we make snap judgments about complete strangers based on immediate clues.
Case in point: I can often be found moving about our fair city clutching a small Lululemon bag. Someone who does not know me might well assume that:
1. I shop at Lululemon.
2. I like Lululemon.
3. I have a lot of disposable income.
None of these things are true*. The reasons why I can be spotted with a Lululemon bag are:
1. I am friends with many people who shop at Lululemon and when they come over for potluck dinners they often bring their contributions in Lululemon bags which they leave at my house.
2. I am too cheap to spend money on a reusable lunch bag.
3. Said Lululemon bag is extremely convenient for transporting my lunch and is in fact the perfect size for holding one quart-size and one pint-size mason jar.
A fellow Philadelphian might look at my little red Lululemon bag, emblazoned with alternatively sophomoric and downright nonsensical quotes, and might, not unreasonably, concoct a narrative about how I have an unhealthy obsession with the shape of my buns and how I frequently post pictures of myself on Instagram with hashtags like #spiritualgangster #soblessed and #dancelikenobodyswatching.
That fellow Philadelphian might never guess the depths to which I despise the things written on my admittedly convenient and durable little red Lululemon bag. Where to even begin?
Let’s start with the biggest font:
“Friends are more important than money” I agree with this statement, but not when it’s coming from a multinational corporation whose sole raison d’être is to make money, not friends. Maybe it’s on here because founder Chip Wilson is so great at making friends. He has made friends with the Japanese, who amuse him when they have trouble pronouncing the three “L”s in his company name, and with all of the plus-size women for whom his company will not manufacture pants because the extra fabric cuts into profit margins.
“Live near the ocean and inhale the pure salt air” Well this is a no-brainer. Attention Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix! Quit your job, pack your bags, and relocate your family! Lululemon said so.
“Jealousy works the opposite way you want it to” My mother told me this when I was seven years old. Funny how the same sentiment can sound profound when it comes from someone who loves you but condescending and annoying when it comes from a corporation who just wants you to part with your money.
“Sunscreen absorbed into the skin might be worse for you than sunshine. Get the right amount of sunshine.” Oh, now you’re going to offer me medical advice, clothing store? Are you gonna make me put on my science pants? Fact: Skin cancer is the MOST COMMON cancer in the United States. There is zero debate in the scientific community that UV lights causes cancer. Sunshine has been implicated in nearly 90% of nonmelanoma and 65% of melanoma skin cancers. While it’s true that a few studies have found that oxybenzone, an active ingredient in some sunscreens, can disrupt hormones in animal subjects, a human would have to apply sunscreen for 277 years to reach the levels given to the test subjects.  This statement places preliminary evidence and a body of evidence that has been established over decades on equal ground. Not cool.
“Effectiveness is predicated by replacing the words “wish” “should” and “try” with “I will”. Wait, how did I end up at an Amway seminar?
“Listen listen listen, then ask strategic question.” Yo Chip Wilson, did you listen when women called you out after you said that the Lululemon pants had transparency problems because some women’s thighs are too fat? Not really. You just said you were sad about the impact your words had on your employees.
“A daily hit of athletic-induced endorphins give you the power to make better decision, helps you be at peace with yourself, and offsets stress” Translation: because exercise is so good for you, it justifies spending $128 on a pair of yoga pants. By the way have you seen the new Ta Ta Tamer III?
“Write down two personal, two business and two health goals for the next 1, 5, and 10 years. Do this four times a year. Goal setting triggers your subconscious computer.” Stop telling me what to do! You are worse than Gwyneth Paltrow.
“Drink fresh water and as much water as you can. Fresh water flushes toxins from your body and keeps your brain sharp” Guess what happens when you drink as much water as you can? You drop dead. Hyponatraemia, look it up sometime. We already have something that “flushes toxins from the body” and it’s called our liver. This advice is a classic example of something with no factual basis being repeated enough times that everyone takes it as truth.  You’re not helping, Lululemon.
“Don’t trust that an old age pension will be sufficient” Now you’re giving me financial advice? You want to be my doctor, personal trainer, technical, spiritual, and menu advisor, AND my financial planner? Hold the phone. Lululemon, you are a CLOTHING store. A CLOTHING store. “Breathe deeply” and repeat after me: “I am a clothing store.”
“Observe a plant before and after watering and relate these benefits to your body and brain.” Just stop.
“Practice yoga so you can remain active in physical sports as you age.” Did you know that “Ocean is the fictional 32-year-old muse that inspires Lululemon’s designers. She’s fit, educated, and affluent. Her 34-year-old husband, Duke, inspires the men’s line.” Am I the only person who finds this really creepy? I bet Ocean got a boob job. I bet Duke looks at male porn when Ocean is not home. I bet Ocean rages at Duke when he comes back from the farmers’ market with Curly Kale instead of Dinosaur Kale. Ohmygod, who the hell is named Ocean and Duke?
“Creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment.” I can’t anymore. I just can’t. I have depleted a whole week’s worth of snark reserves. Other than the fact that they stole the design of the bag from Dr. Bronner’s, I have nothing else to say on the matter. I am well aware that I just blew any chance I ever had of becoming a Lululemon ambassador and I’m totally okay with that. Namaste, bitches, and don’t forget to drink a lot of water.
*I have purchased two pairs of pants at Lululemon. The first pair pilled after six trips through the washing machine and the second give me droopy butt. I did not take a bag because taking a bag is against my religion. I shall not be returning.
 Dermatol Clin. 2014 Jul;32(3):427-38, Sunscreens: a review of health benefits, regulations, and controversies. Mancebo SE1, Hu JY2, Wang SQ3.