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Revolve Botches Anti-Fat-Shaming Campaign With ‘Being Fat Is Not Beautiful’ Sweatshirt

This post has been updated.

Twitter users lambasted fashion retailer Revolve yesterday for releasing a sweatshirt that says, “Being fat is not beautiful it’s an excuse,” in all-caps, which was supposed to be released as part of an anti-cyber-bullying and anti-fat-shaming campaign.

“This morning, images of a forth coming LPA collection were prematurely released on Revolve.com,” the online retailer said in a statement to People. “The capsule collection – originally conceived by LPA alongside Lena Dunham, Emily Ratajkowski, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse and Paloma Elsesser – was set to debut tomorrow 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.”

Model and body-positivity advocate Tess Holliday voiced her disapproval of the brand’s premature campaign on Twitter, saying that Revolve is “a mess” accompanied by a screenshot of the brand’s sweatshirt.

LPA took to Instagram to explain the situation to Florence Given, a London-based artist and social issues advocate. “The sweatshirts went up early on Revolve for some reason. But it’s a collaboration with five women. With the worst troll quotes,” the chat says. “The point was to shine the light on how horrible trolling is. The proceeds benefit charity.”

In response, Florence Given said via an Instagram post, “This is still incredibly problematic and an awful attempt at ‘claiming back’ toxic narratives because (in my opinion). [I]t just gives them power by putting them back into the world and at a £162 price tag. The designs went up to XL, so the women who this tee is supposed to ‘empower’ probably wouldn’t even fit into one.”

 

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ITS BEEN CANCELLED! Yesterday I posted a screenshot of this jumper calling out @revolve – within minutes the brand was in contact with me and the listings were taken off the site – a few hours later it’s all over the news and @lpa decided to pull the distasteful collection COMPLETELY…We did this!!! However, the fashion world still has a problem with fat bodies. There is still an eating disorder inducing narrative that is being filtered through our every day lives in advertising that says you CANNOT be happy the way you are, because there are industries that rely on your self doubting COIN! Speaking of which, Insatiable just got picked up for Season 2 despite it being rated the worst Netflix original series ever…what does that tell you about Netflix? I am done

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Dunham responded with her own Instagram post, saying, “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.)”

 

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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. 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. 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.

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Revolve has since pulled the campaign from its virtual shelves. While we commend the brand for taking on fat-shaming and cyber-bullying, clearly they should have paid more attention to the campaign’s execution.

Update 9/14/18:

Last night, Revolve issued an apology via Instagram, which reads in part: “The LPA x Lena collection was a project that we stood behind and believed in. The product released on our site was part of a collaboration intended to shine a light on the darkness of the internet, by printing real-life, damaging comments that have been left on the social media feeds of women everywhere.

The intention was not to promote or endorse these hateful words, but instead to empower all women by making them understand that even the world’s most beautiful and successful women have been subject to hateful messages from internet bullies.

Through a horrible oversight on our part, the hateful comment shaming Paloma for her weight was not shot on an appropriate model, as we are horrified and incredibly sorry that we made this mistake.”

The company takes full responsibility and says that no sweatshirts were sold. Further, it plans to donate $20,000 to Girls Write Now, the organization that was meant to benefit from the campaign.

 

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