Body shaming women is no way to make money and the marketing department should be ashamed.
This week has seen shocking, fat-phobic marketing techniques from some of America’s biggest retailers – and women are not happy.
Forever 21 has been accused of ‘body shaming’ their customers after sending Atkins diet bars with all of their online orders. They were originally accused of exclusively including this ‘freebie’ to women who purchased plus-sized clothing, but the company insists that they were included in ALL online purchases.
As if that makes it better.
Seemingly surprised by the backlash, Forever 21 released the following statement apologizing for the ‘tone-deaf’ promotion:
“From time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders. The freebie items in question were included in all online orders, across all sizes and categories, for a limited time and have since been removed. This was an oversight on our part and we sincerely apologize for any offense this may have caused to our customers, as this was not our intention in any way.”
Now, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that sending bars that promote low-carb diets and weight loss to young girls is inappropriate. That’s non-negotiable.
This promotion of diet culture has the potential to trigger some dangerous thoughts in women who just wanted to feel good about themselves in clothes that they loved and wanted to buy.
Trying on clothes can be a traumatic experience for some women, with many (myself included) leaving a change room in tears or sending back an order at least once because the clothes just didn’t fit right.
Opening up an online delivery of clothing, only to find a diet bar encouraging you to lose weight is so damaging and it’s going to be hard to feel good in those garments even if they do fit perfectly.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only instance of using vulnerable women and their insecurities to market products this week.
Macy’s released a plate set, marking the portion sizes required to fit into different types of jeans – and it’s outrageous.
— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 21, 2019
While they apologized and removed the portion-control plates from stores, they are still available elsewhere. The justification is that these plates provide a ‘hip-and-humorous‘ way to prevent over-indulgence.
Umm, big no on that one.
That could just as well be a big plate of vegetables, yet you imply that whoever eats it won’t fit into their favorite jeans.
Not only does this perpetuate the stigma that all thin people eat restrictively, but it also insinuates that thicker women overeat. It takes no consideration of the fact that food intake is not the only contributing factor to one’s weight whilst promoting restrictive eating behaviors that can trigger eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
If I was at a dinner party and I was given that plate to eat from, I would cry. No joke.
We can’t go on like this. We can’t keep using women’s insecurities to sell products.
I am so tired of women being the butt of the joke that is diet culture. I am sick of them shaming our bodies and telling us we can only love ourselves if we buy a weightloss product. I am sick of only feeling as worthy as my weight.
I have spent most of my life hating my body.
From the age of 13, I started dieting and excessively exercising, but I know girls who started much younger than that. Disordered eating is normalized with teenage girls. I spent most of my school years more concerned with numbers on a scale than my education.
I’ve taken some pretty drastic measures for weight loss but even when I was at my smallest, I wasn’t happy. I was hungry, depressed and so exhausted that people were more concerned than congratulatory.
It’s taken years of grueling soul work and bucketloads of tears for me to get where I am. I don’t think about the calories in food as obsessively as I used to and I work out once a week (maybe, probably not though…) Sure, I don’t cry when I try on jeans anymore but I still have a long way to go.
I wish I could stand on this platform as a woman who is confident in her body but I can’t help but feel a crushing sense of imposter syndrome. How can I tell you to love your bodies when I can’t even love mine?
Turning off the part of your brain that says you aren’t good enough is hard work.
Marketing techniques turn the volume back up and reinforce the fact that women are only worth as much as their size. We can’t keep acting shocked when we see stats about eating disorders and body dissatisfaction when companies are literally selling it to us.
We need to do better and expect more from the people who sell us our clothes.
Show me an advertising campaign that celebrates diversity and welcomes women of different sizes.
Show me some cellulite, stretch marks and belly rolls.
Show me a company that cares about women, rather than the amount of money they can make from their insecurities.
Body shaming women is no way to make money and the only people who should be ashamed are the companies perpetuating this impossible (and unhealthy) standard of beauty.
Featured image via tumblr.com
Emily is a professional caffeine queen. She enjoys long walks on the beach and smashing the patriarchy.