Fitness queen Lorna Jane Clarkson admits she “just closed the doors” to a social media backlash over her company’s recruitment process because she thought the issue had been blown out of proportion.
The strategy appeared to continue on Wednesday when organisers blocked the media from accessing a breakfast event in Brisbane to promote the Lorna Jane gym clothing founder’s new book, Inspire.
But their efforts were in vain, with attendees uploading videos of Ms Clarkson herself responding to the controversy during a question and answer session, making her personal concerns public for the first time.
“It was really overwhelming and, as some of the press reported, I just closed the doors because I really thought that the whole thing had been blown up into something it actually wasn’t,” Ms Clarkson told the audience.
“I just really wanted to let it play itself out, and what I really got from it was that I had such wonderful support from fans of the brand.”
The gym clothing empire, Lorna Jane, came under fire earlier this week for seeking a “receptionist/fit model” to complete administrative duties as well as help the design team fit garments.
The successful candidate was required to be a size small and fall within stipulated bust, waist, hip and height parameters.
The ad provoked angry reaction from online readers, with some accusing the fitness guru of undermining confidence in diverse, yet healthy, female bodies.
But Ms Clarkson defended the ad, saying she was only trying to merge two existing part-time positions into a full-time role “so that Lorna Jane is more important to this person”.
“I was trying to do something good and it just got misconstrued,” she said.
Ms Clarkson accused her critics of not understanding the role fit models, who rate the feel of garments, played in the industry.
“My regret is that the people talking about the ad didn’t read it, they just read the heading,” she said.
“I feel like they just read it and then someone made a comment and then they were reading the comments rather than actually taking the time to read the job description.”
Ms Clarkson said her brand recognised fit and healthy women “came in all different shapes and sizes and we celebrate that”.
A Lorna Jane spokeswoman told AAP on Wednesday the media weren’t invited because the invitations were finalised weeks ago and journalists weren’t allowed to stand at the back of the sold-out event.