Considering the sheer number of retailers that have faced public opprobrium for selling offensive, irresponsible and just downright misguided items, it's a wonder that companies are still selling such rubbish. The latest culprit? Online fashion retailer Pretty Little Thing, which has been forced to remove a top from its site after a fierce backlash – and rightfully so.
It may sound horrendous, but Pretty Little Thing really did sell a £4 gym vest with "Am I skinny yet?" emblazoned across the front before it was forced to take it down. Not only that, but the top was only available in an extra small size, reported The Sun. It's hard to think of a more blatant promotion of disordered eating and negative body image, and it's mind-boggling that the company didn't foresee the response it received.
As if body dysmorphia / hatred aren’t common enough amongst women you want to sell them sports wear literally telling them they’re not “skinny” yet and potentially promote unhealthy weight loss?— Immie (@immie_bee) November 21, 2017
A former anorexia sufferer said she was disgusted when she saw the top online. "It really promotes negative thoughts," said Jess Mell, a nutrition and public health student from Howden, Yorkshire. "By using a question like this on the front of a piece of clothing it prompts people to ask if they are skinny. For such a big clothing brand to be promoting a slogan like that is terrible. It scares me to think how many people might have seen it and started to question themselves."
She continued: “When people think of losing weight they focus on the waist. By placing 'skinny' on the waist it draws attention to that area. I don't know why anyone would really buy it," adding that retailers should take more responsibility for the slogans they place on clothing and recognise the impact they could have.
Beat, the country's foremost eating disorder charity, seemed to agree. "Sadly, this vest top is not the first example of how eating disorders can be trivialised or glamourised," a spokesperson told The Sun. "We know clothing such as this vest top can trigger negative behaviours in people who are affected by these complex mental health issues, which can cause serious harm." It called on Pretty Little Thing to pull the vest, which it did, however people have been publicly complaining about it since January.
The retailer apologised "to Jess and any of our customers who felt any offence by this". In a statement, the company continued: "We take these allegations extremely seriously and encourage young girls to be happy and healthy whatever their weight, shape or size. The t-shirt in question has been removed from our website and we will be working with our teams to ensure this does not happen again."
Pretty Little Thing was at the centre of another, less consequential, PR blunder late last month when photos of the company's bizarre sizing emerged on social media. One woman tweeted a hilarious photo of a pair of size 6 trousers that made her look like she was wearing "flippers", while another woman couldn't believe the size of the brand's oversized wide leg jumpsuit when it arrived in the post.
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