Celeb-Endorsed Charity Sweatshirt Backfires Over Fatphobic Message
On Wednesday, fans of the online clothing store Revolve were shocked to find a sweatshirt in the brand’s new fall lineup that read: “Being fat is not beautiful it’s an excuse.”
Many on Twitter were aghast at the beige sweatshirt and its statement, including plus model and advocate Felicity Hayward, who tweeted: “A charity jumper at £162, using very small models to promote fatphobic quotes, it’s very messy.”
— Felicity (@FelicityHayward) September 12, 2018
Of course, seeing a sweatshirt that describes fat women’s bodies as an “excuse” doesn’t exactly send warm and fuzzy feelings, no matter the context. But California brand LPA — the makers of the sweatshirt in question — had a much more inclusive and supportive idea in mind when designing this and other clothing that was to be sold online at parent company Revolve.
Simone Kuhfal, a spokesperson for Revolve, told us that the image was released on Revolve.com prematurely and was actually supposed to be shown as part of a much larger anti-bullying campaign.
“The capsule collection — originally conceived by LPA alongside Lena Dunham, Emily Ratajkowski, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse, and Paloma Elsesser — was set to debut tomorrow (Thursday) as a direct commentary on the modern day ‘normality’ of cyber-bullying and the shared desire to create a community for those most affected by the epidemic,” she told Brit + Co late on Wednesday via email.
The email continued: “Proceeds were set to benefit ‘Girls Write Now,’ a charity focused on mentoring underserved young women and helping them find their voices and tell their stories through writing.”
Kuhfal also apologized for releasing an image of a model whose physique is not “reflective of the piece’s commentary on body positivity.” She added that “we at Revolve sincerely apologize” to the women involved in the concept, and let us know that Revolve pulled the entire collection off its website.
In order to make amends, Revolve has committed to making good on their charitable donation. “We are proud to donate $20,000 to ‘Girls Write Now’ in the hopes that those who need it can still benefit from what was to be a meaningful, insightful, and impactful collaboration by LPA,” Kuhfal told us.
Dunham responded to the backlash this morning, taking to her Instagram to address the collection and distance herself from Revolve’s handling of the situation.
“For months I’ve been working on a collaboration with LPA through parent company Revolve — sweatshirts that highlight quotes from prominent women who have experienced internet trolling & abuse,” she captioned a pic of Renaissance women’s full figures in a painting.
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For months I’ve been working on a collaboration with my friend Pia’s company LPA through parent company @revolve - sweatshirts that highlight quotes from prominent women who have experienced internet trolling & abuse. This is a cause very close to my heart and the proceeds were meant to benefit charities that help young women by empowering them to express themselves through writing and art. Without consulting me or any of the women involved, @revolve presented the sweatshirts on thin white women, never thinking about the fact that difference and individuality is what gets you punished on the Internet, or that lack of diversity in representation is a huge part of the problem (in fact, the problem itself.) As a result, I cannot support this collaboration or lend my name to it in any way. This isn’t meant to shame Pia or the great work she’s done with LPA. I am deeply disappointed in @revolve’s handling of a sensitive topic and a collaboration rooted in reclaiming the words of internet trolls to celebrate the beauty in diversity and bodies and experiences that aren’t the industry norm. *** I’d like to especially extend my love and support to @palomija, whose quote was the first to be promoted and mangled. She’s a hero of mine. Like me, she gave her quote in good faith and shared her vulnerability in order to support arts education and to spread her message of empowerment, and she wasn’t consulted in the marketing. Not an ounce of negativity should be sent her way. *** My only goal on this planet is to empower women through art and dialogue. I’m grateful to every woman who shared a quote and so disappointed that our words were not honored. As a result, I will be making a donation to the charity of every woman’s choice who was wronged with me and I hope that @revolve will join me with a contribution of their own. *** P.S. This Rubens painting makes me happy because it’s about women joining in love, but he didn’t recognize diversity at all- he just loved curvy butts. Problematic fave.
A post shared by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on
“This is a cause very close to my heart and the proceeds were meant to benefit charities that help young women by empowering them to express themselves through writing and art. Without consulting me or any of the women involved, Revolve presented the sweatshirts on thin white women, never thinking about the fact that difference and individuality is what gets you punished on the Internet, or that lack of diversity in representation is a huge part of the problem (in fact, the problem itself.)”
Beyond frustrated, Dunham has removed her support from the collaboration, as well. “As a result, I cannot support this collaboration or lend my name to it in any way. I am deeply disappointed in Revolve’s handling of a sensitive topic and a collaboration rooted in reclaiming the words of internet trolls to celebrate the beauty in diversity and bodies and experiences that aren’t the industry norm.”
Elsesser told fans via Instagram stories that she would respond today, writing, “I’m tired, triggered and still at a loss for words.” Delevingne, Ratajkowski, and Waterhouse have not yet publicly responded to the controversy.
(Photo via Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
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