What was meant as a snarky reclamation of the female body turned into the worst possible situation for popular clothing brands Revolve and LPA.
The companies slapped several choice fat-shaming comments on a series of sweatshirts, which they then slapped on a series of thin models. One such sweatshirt read, “Being fat is not beautiful, it’s an excuse.”
People were outraged and disappointed with Revolve, which is a high-traffic shopping destination for many young girls and women. The sweatshirt’s slogan as well as its obscene $168 price tag quickly went viral on social media, arousing the ire of plus-size model Tess Holiday along with many others.
Hey @REVOLVE what the actual fuck is this??? You actually were my favorite place to online shop but the fact that this made it through however many people it did and on to your website is so fucking mind blowing and disappointing. Biggest fail of a campaign I’ve ever seen pic.twitter.com/mdhOMFXV7n— Jenn McAllister (@jennmcallister) September 13, 2018
Spokespeople for Revolve and LPA quickly did damage control. Revolve admitted the gaffe in a statement to PEOPLE, explaining how the images of the collection with LPA were prematurely released and were meant “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.’
Furthermore, benefits of the sales would go to Girls Write Now, “a charity focused on mentoring underserved young women and helping them find their voices and tell their stories through writing.”
Essentially, the campaign featured a line of sweatshirts embellished with cruel Instagram comments given to the famous people who’d received them. Specifically, Lena Dunham, Emily Ratajkowski, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse and Paloma Elsesser.
The remainder of Revolve’s statement expressed regret at not thinking through their choice of models, an apology to the famous people involved, and a pledge to donate a significant amount to ‘Girls Write Now’:
“The prematurely released images featured on Revolve.com was not only included without context of the overall campaign but regrettably featured one of the pieces on a model who’s size was not reflective of the piece’s commentary on body positivity.
We at Revolve sincerely apologize to all those involved – particularly Lena, Emily, Cara, Suki and Paloma – our loyal customers, and the community as a whole for this error. The collection has been pulled.
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.”
LPA also released a statement, which can be read in full on their Instagram, as did Lena Dunham.
View this post on Instagram
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.
Despite all the damage control, many people weren’t convinced the campaign was that great of an idea even had the models been curvy. Besides featuring only skinny models and putting forward a hella lazy attempt at combatting cyber-bullying, Revolve and LPA produced limited sizes for the line.
Just think of how many people at @REVOLVE had to approve this concept before it got printed on a shirt, produced, and put online. There are SO MANY things you can do to “raise awareness for cyberbullying” that are not this...? like multiple people actually signed off on this wtf pic.twitter.com/vJgvfSWklW— Makeda Drennan (@makedajaye) September 12, 2018
When the answer is “The merchandise went up early? Also, fundraising! And bullying is wrong!” to the question “Why are you selling a sweatshirt conflating fatness with laziness?” perhaps a rethink is in order? https://t.co/bJzdtovmHj— The Immortal Iron Feminist (@lschmeiser) September 12, 2018
What do you think?