Depending on the woman you ask, pregnancy can either be the best of times or the worst of times. It can mean morning sickness, insomnia, and feeling bloated and sluggish — or it can mean feeling energized and excited just at the thought of an adorable baby on his or her way. And because a woman’s body changes during pregnancy, it can be a challenge to find exercise clothing that goes beyond an extra-large sleep shirt and roomy, track bottoms. That’s why there is plenty to get excited about over Nike’s latest capsule collection, Nike M, which includes a bra, tank top, cardigan, and tights, all made with a super-stretchy fabric that’s meant to adapt to a woman’s body as it changes during pregnancy.
Fast Company notes the project was led by senior design director Carmen Zolman with other mothers and mothers-to-be on the company’s design team. The group used data from more than 150,000 body scans so they could work out how women’s bodies change during pregnancy, and they worked with focus groups made up of both professional and amateur athletes. The best part about these pieces is that women can wear these pieces across all stages of pregnancy and after the baby is born, which goes a long way in justifying the $45 to $80 price tags.
Nike was accused of discriminating against pregnant athletes
The capsule collection is being released a year after Nike was accused of discriminating against pregnant athletes the company sponsors. Until 2019, while Nike was celebrating women in sports, it also was privately cutting sponsorship funding to women athletes in track and field (via Sports Illustrated). Last year, Olympic runner Alysia Montaño said that while Nike marketing was celebrating her participation in the 2014 United States Championships in public, she was fighting to keep her sponsorship pay check in private (via The New York Times). The situation was so bad that Phoebe Wright, who was sponsored by Nike between 2010 and 2016, said: “Getting pregnant is the kiss of death for a female athlete. There’s no way I’d tell Nike if I were pregnant.”
Nike subsequently admitted that sponsored athletes had their payments reduced when they got pregnant, but it also said they adopted new policies in 2018 so athletes wouldn’t be “penalized.” The Times article triggered a congressional inquiry, and resulted in a new maternity policy for all sponsored athletes, which guarantees an athlete pay and bonuses for 18 months around the pregnancy.
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