On a Thursday morning panel at Outdoor Retailer, REI and prAna joined Columbia in launching a line of extended size outdoor and active apparel for plus sized women.

In conjunction with their 2017 Force of Nature movement that championed women’s voices and presence in the outdoor sphere, REI holistically embraced body positivity.

“Body positivity is unlearning the idea that only certain bodies are worth acceptance and praise, and instead recognizing that all bodies are equally valuable. It’s deciding what feels good and healthy for you personally, and letting other people do so for themselves. It’s understanding that you deserve to live in your body without receiving the prejudice of others and working toward a world where no one’s body is the target of such bias.”

Intersectionality, the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, gender, and size, became a key component of the Force of Nature campaign as REI developed imagery and marketing that showcased women of color and women of all sizes.

But even as they began to represent a diverse array of women in their advertising, REI began to get push back from their consumers who couldn’t actually find clothing that fit them in REI retail stories. From a business perspective, it no longer made sense to ignore the 67% of American women who are size 14 or larger.

Columbia has been offering extended size clothing for the past 26 years; REI has recently joined their ranks now offering extended size technical Goretex gear, and in Spring of 2018, prAna will join the two retailers in providing a line of extended size yoga and lifestyle active wear. Finally, women will be able to find gear that fits their bodies, personalities, and their lifestyles.

“Just because I need a few extra inches of fabric around my thighs, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the gear I need to lead a happy, healthy, and active life.”

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