Nike has responded to growing pushback from female athletes who have condemned the company for using transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney in an advertisement featuring women’s apparel.
The Oregon-based company released a message across social-media on Friday condemning the blowback as not “in the spirit of a diverse and inclusive community.”
“You are an essential component to the success of your community! We welcome comments that contribute to a positive and constructive discussion: Be kind ❤️ Be inclusive ❤️,” the company wrote. “Hate speech, bullying, or other behaviors that are not in the spirit of a diverse and inclusive community will be deleted,” Nike vowed on their Instagram account whose bio features #BlackLivesMatter and #StopAsianHate.
Nike faced backlash earlier this week for appointing Mulvaney, a transgender activist, as a brand ambassador sporting women’s clothing.
In one viral clip released on Mulvaney’s social-media account, the TikTok star is seen modeling Nike leggings and a sports bra, which drew the ire of former Olympic silver medalist swimmer Sharron Davies.
“It’s so frustrating. We take two steps forward with World Athletics and Swim England protecting women’s sport and then Nike does this,” Davies told GB News referring to recent decisions to bar transgender women from competing in categories based on their gender identity.
“The ad feels like a parody of what women are. In the past, it was always seen as an insult to say ‘run like a girl,’ and here we’ve got someone behaving in a way that’s very unsporty and very unathletic. And it’s so frustrating when only 1% of the USA sponsorship dollar goes to females in sport. That Nike would do this feels like a kick in the teeth.”
Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman, also condemned the marketing campaign accusing Nike of trying to “erase women” from sports.
“EQUALITY > INCLUSIVITY (STOP TRYING TO ERASE WOMEN). The differences between men and women are real and are a good thing! It doesn’t make trans ppl a bad thing, either. Why is it so black and white with the RADICAL RAINBOW MAFIA?!” Jenner tweeted on Thursday.
“As someone that grew up in awe of what Phil Knight did, it is a shame to see such an iconic American company go so woke! We can be inclusive but not at the expense of the mass majority of people, and have some decency while being inclusive. This is an outrage,” Jenner added.
Other female sports stars, including former college swimmer Riley Gaines, have expressed similar misgivings.
Mulvaney was also recently offered a brand deal with Bud Light which triggered similar condemnations by critics of Anheuser-Busch for sponsoring and promoting a caricatured version of femininity.