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June 14, 2017

Why We Sponsor Kelly Roberts

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Oiselle was founded in 2007, sponsored our first Olympic Trials elite runners in 2012, and celebrated our first Olympians (four!) in 2016. So although we are kind of new kids on the block, we have experienced a full cycle of track and field.

It is our highest honor supporting elite athletes, and we will continue to do so. The pursuit of achievement in athletics is beautiful, and these athletes' stories give all of us a beacon to follow. But by 2016, we knew we could do more to reach more female athletes, to spread a love of running. In addition to supporting elites and the positive impact they have on the community, we want to give a voice to the brand new runners and everyday athletes.

In summer of 2016 we started our Muse program, an affiliation with women who are athletes as well as leaders in other dimensions. In fall of 2016, one of our Volée teammates suggested we reach out to Kelly Roberts, because of her consistent positive voice for body acceptance and inclusivity. As we got to know Kelly, it was clear she had a unique voice and pure sense of positivity. We intersected deeply in a love of running, competing, and building the sisterhood. We were happy to collaborate with her, and are proud to continue our collaboration with her today.

A few important facts to clear up any confusion.

  1. Kelly’s compensation is not funded in any part by Volée memberships and it never has been. A portion of each Volée membership goes to our Woman Up Fund, which helps support the Haute Volée elite team, as well as our sports bra donation program for middle school girls.
  2. Oiselle does not condone banditing races or wearing bibs registered to others. Kelly made mistakes in the past involving joining races improperly, and has issued a direct and complete apology. Kelly is human, like all of us. Kelly has agreed to refrain from these actions in the future. We deeply support the race director community, and ask that everyone in our community support them by abiding by these rules.
  3. Bullying by a teammate. Unfortunately, we experienced a situation during the past 3-4 months where a Volée teammate repeatedly defamed and disrespected Kelly via team venues, such as Facebook, Twitter, and our online portal, which caused us to remove her from the Volée. We welcome questions, conversation, and critical feedback, but we have zero tolerance for bullying.

In closing, I’ll just say yesterday was a sad and difficult day for Oiselle. But likely more so for Kelly, who I consider a friend, and who inspires me to accept my body for what it is, and what it does. No person should be subject to the hateful speech, the shaming, the aggression that I have seen spew out of the Internet. Oiselle welcomes discourse, but people posting hateful statements will be blocked from Oiselle feeds.

The Oiselle community is a living, breathing organism, and we value all of the engagement and passion. We encourage respectful conversation and feedback, and we listen and are constantly growing ourselves. It is our hope we can use constructive dialogue to continue evolve as a running community. We value all of our teammates: our customers as well as Volée, Muses, Pros, Haute Volée, and Kelly Roberts, under whatever label she takes. Head up, wings out. 

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Comments

Suzanne | June 14, 2017 at 10:20am

Thank you!!

Thank you!!

Meredith | June 14, 2017 at 10:50am

Thank you for your

Thank you for your transparency! Kelly is human, like the rest of us, and deserves a chance to learn and grow from past blunders. I appreciate her candor as well in owning up to her mistakes. I love her Women's Running cover, and cringe at all the hateful comments about her body from all the Armchair Marathoners hiding behind Twitter handles. Thank you, Oiselle, for continuing to be a safe place for runners of all kinds to spread their wings.

Katie | June 14, 2017 at 11:03am

Thank you for explaining and

Thank you for explaining and/or clarifying some important points. In the past some of these questions from others seemed to be dismissed or ignored. Thank you for answers.

Mary | June 14, 2017 at 11:12am

These are good people running

These are good people running this company and you can trust that their intent is good. Thank you, Sally, for all you are doing to support women at all levels in the the running community. Onward!

Christine | June 14, 2017 at 11:17am

Ya'll rock!

Ya'll rock!

Melissa W | June 14, 2017 at 11:25am

I hate that this even had to

I hate that this even had to be written. Much love to you, Kelly and all of my Volee sisters!!

Ulrika | June 14, 2017 at 11:53am

Kelly

❤️❤️❤️

Kendra | June 14, 2017 at 11:57am

KR

Thank you for your clarification renewing my Volee' today❤️

Margaret | June 14, 2017 at 12:10pm

Way to go, Oiselle!

Thank you, Sally and Oiselle, for embracing Kelly K Roberts, who I started following because of Oiselle, and for taking these actions to protect Kelly and the Oiselle community. Margaret

Kelly Bennett | June 14, 2017 at 12:57pm

Awesome supportive group of Women!

It makes me proud to be a part of such a supportive, positive, kick-butt group of Women! Thank you, Oiselle and Sally!!!

Laura | June 14, 2017 at 1:14pm

More body positive sizes?

I'm happy to see your support of body-positive activists and standing by them when bullying is heaped upon them. But what I'd really love to see is a company who supports body positivity sell clothing in sizes larger than a 12.

Danielle | June 14, 2017 at 1:27pm

I follow Kelly and I

I follow Kelly and I absolutely love her. Thank you Ladies for sticking by her, it is so easy for a company to back away when any negative light (true or false) is shed.

Jane @janerunswild | June 14, 2017 at 1:44pm

Great response!

Hi Kelly and Oiselle- thank you for being honest and maintaining incredible integrity. Kelly, I recently listened to a podcast (W/ Nicole A), and love your vibe & mission. You rock! Keep it up and don't let anyone stop you!

jbarnard | June 14, 2017 at 2:32pm

Thank You

Laura - thank you for the push on this. We are currently working on styles for Spring 18!

Irene Rojas | June 14, 2017 at 2:41pm

❤️

I love you Kelly Roberts!

Julie | June 14, 2017 at 2:45pm

Kelly, I watched all your

Kelly, I watched all your YouTube videos and have listened to many podcast episodes. And continue to love them.

Ciara Cappo | June 14, 2017 at 5:09pm

Wow I must've missed what

Wow I must've missed what happened but I definitely agree that Kelly is a positive voice for our community!! I'm glad she is part of the Oiselle Volee! Hater's gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate.

paige | June 14, 2017 at 7:36pm

YES to Kelly Roberts!

Thank you for standing by this incredible woman. She has given confidence to so many, and inspired a movement...even leaders make mistakes-but hers is so small in this BIG BOLD life she's living. Kudos to you! You've got my allegiance! Thank you!

Catherine | June 14, 2017 at 8:06pm

Making a stand...

You see the thing is, if you never do much, you never really attract comment about what you do, whether positive or negative. For my part, I'd rather stand with the women who have a point of view and that's what I love about being part of this team - a group of courageous, intelligent people who speak up about issues important in the broader scheme of things. I've always admired Kelly and what she has to say - she's not perfect, but then who is?

Crishana | June 15, 2017 at 9:22am

In Support of Kelly Roberts

Love, love, love your brand and support of Kelly Roberts. Her voice is so authentic and real and for runners out there who are not elite, myself included, she provides a voice for us.

Caolan | June 15, 2017 at 9:23am

The Kelly controversy

It seems that this is receiving overwhelming support based on the comments. I will be the dissenting voice, I suppose. Oiselle, of course, has the right to support and work with those the company views as advancing their mission. My issue with Roberts is not actually the banditting (though she did apologize in the past but then kept on doing it, which seems to indicate that she wasn't actually sorry!) but the fact that she objectifies men in a manner that, a) contradicts the so-called 'body positive' message, and b) If this was done by a man taking pictures of 'hot' women, we would be outraged. For me integrity matters - what that means is knowing what you stand for and sticking by that. You can not, simultaneously, preach body positivity to women while turning men into objects. This contradiction shows, in my opinion, that Roberts' message is confused and motivated more by self promotion rather than empowering women of all sizes, ages, and abilities.

Oiselle customer | June 15, 2017 at 10:10am

I hate to be the downer in this thread, but...

...Words matter. I have no issue with Kelly, or with Oiselle's choice to sponsor her. However, as I see it, one of Oiselle and Lauren Fleshman's important contributions to the running scene has been calling attention to challenges and problematic sponsorship ecosystem faced by professional and aspiring professional runners, particularly women. For most professional runners, their bodies and performances (for better or worse) determine their ability to make money, and pregnancy, injury, or failure to place at a race can have major effects on their ability to support themselves. I'd encourage Oiselle not to undermine its work on these issues by using terms like "professional runner" inaccurately or defensively in the future. If we want to improve women's ability to fly as professional runners, an important first step is helping the public to understand what this term currently means in practice.

Laura | June 15, 2017 at 10:51am

Hello!

Hello! Thank you for addressing the controversy surrounding Kelly. While I appreciate her message surrounding self esteem and being body positive, I find it truly discouraging and hypocritical that Oiselle would overlook Kelly's actions of taking pictures of unsuspecting and UNCONSENTING male runners during a race, posting those photos on the internet, and commenting on their appearance. If a man were to do this to women, we would be outraged. PLEASE address this issue. In not addressing it, it appears that you are condoning her behaviour and creating a double standard where women are allowed to do things that would be completely unacceptable if perpetrated by men. You cannot empower women by excusing tasteless behaviour and not holding us accountable to basic standards of decency and respect. As female runners and athletes, it hurts our cause of fighting to be seen as more than just eye candy, while our "spokeswoman" is seen treating our male counterparts this way. Please, instead of making us look like hypocrites, address this issue and use it as an opportunity to move women and women's sports forwards. We cannot and will not be taken seriously in our messages until we hold ourselves accountable for our actions and to the same standards to which we hold others. Thank you.

Moe Ferrara | June 15, 2017 at 12:58pm

I have been out of the loop

I have been out of the loop for a few weeks and read this statement and actually thought Kelly committed a felony of some sort. When I first started running I had no idea what banditting was or that it was "illegal." I now understand why it isn't allowed, but feel awful that Kelly is being made out to sound like a criminal. Social media has changed society in so many positive ways, but when I see things like this being completely blown out of proportion, it makes me long for the good old days - before the internet came along. Thanks Oiselle. Stay classy

Tatiana | June 15, 2017 at 1:18pm

Thank You

Thank you for speaking up about this. The internet can really bring out the worst in some people, and I was so disappointed to see a lot of the discussions devolve into a virtual angry mob over the past few days. I have been a member of the flock for a few years now and a follower of Kelly's for a little over a year. Listening to her podcast yesterday, it breaks my heart to hear her talk about the abuse she (and her family!) have taken online over the past few days. She made a mistake and she owned up to it. Guess what? People aren't perfect! We make mistakes! It's totally up to each individual whether they accept her apology and forgive her or not, but don't keep kicking a person while they're down. There was a lot of that going on over the past few days. Just put yourself in her shoes - if people found out about a mistake you made, and you asked for forgiveness, how would you feel logging on to social media every day and seeing hateful comment after hateful comment? There's enough hate and anger in the world right now, we don't need to add more to something that in the grand scheme of things, isn't that big of a deal.

Alli | June 15, 2017 at 4:43pm

Thank you

Thank you for taking a zero tolerance stance on bullying and for standing with Kelly. Everyone has flaws, and Kelly has inspired me to forgive and embrace my own. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. It's the heart and soul that counts.

Paige Ganster | June 16, 2017 at 12:05pm

Best Decision Ever

Best Decision made! I love Oiselle and I love Kelly Roberts. Both are a daily inspiration!

Meg | June 17, 2017 at 8:04am

Agree to disagree

Although I have always appreciated Oiselle and all the wonderful things they have done, this is one instance where I have chosen to agree to disagree. I am by far not perfect myself, as none of us are, and have made my own mistakes. So I will not sit here and bash Kelly, as I feel that is not necessary and it is wrong to do. However, I will say that as a woman I work hard to ensure that women are treated fairly and stand tall to be a voice for equality. I also have a teenage daughter who I work hard to set an example for. That being said I have never been a true follower of Kelly simply because if I am going to say it is not okay to objectify woman then I also must not say it is okay to objectify men. It is all about being the example and showing what I do I would also like in return. Kelly became popular for taking rogue pictures of random men in races and objectifying them. If a man did that to women we would all be up in arms and angry, so we must not say it is okay for Kelly to do that to men. If we want equality and respect we must set the example of what we would like and how we would like to be treated. I do appreciate Kelly's body image discussions and the inspiration she has brought to many. That is a very important discussion. However, I can not support her and stand behind her being a powerful voice for woman. My voice is my own and it is quite strong. When I think of strong and powerful voices I think of some of the women now serving are country in the armed forces or voices like Emma Watson (#heforshe), Maya Angelou, Malala Yousafzi, and many more. Thank you Oiselle for writing this piece. I wish your company and Kelly all the luck on future endeavors.

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