Macy’s pulled a line of body-shaming plates with portion sizes like “skinny jeans,” and ugh
The body positivity movement has undeniably come a long way in recent years. Plus-size models like Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham are gaining visibility, showing that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Some stores have even introduced plus-size mannequins, further normalizing the idea that there’s more than one right way to have a body. It’s tempting to look at all of this and pat ourselves on the backs for size-inclusivity, but the reality is that fat-shaming is still everywhere. Recently, for instance, Macy’s came under fire for a collection of plates that shamed diners for the amount they eat.
On July 21st, writer and podcast host Alie Ward spotted the offensive plates at her local Macy’s and tweeted a picture of two of them. People.com notes that the plates came from the brand Pourtions. Macy’s was selling them as part of its STORY initiative to highlight small businesses. Pourtions specializes in dinnerware and glasses that have pre-measured portion sizes marked on them. The idea behind these products seems to be guilting people into eating less; portion sizes have names like “al dente” (smaller) and “al don’te” (larger) or “feed me” (smaller) and “feed bag” (larger).
The first plate that Ward photographed bore three portion sizes: “skinny jeans,” “favorite jeans,” and “mom jeans.” On the second plate (a pasta bowl), the designated portion sizes were “foodie,” and “food coma.”
“How can I get these plates from @Macys banned in all 50 states,” she wrote.
How can I get these plates from @Macys banned in all 50 states pic.twitter.com/1spntAluVl— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 21, 2019
On its company website, Pourtions’ founders said that they came up with the design idea after reading about obesity and believing that portion sizes were the main culprit.
“This initial inspiration led us to design a conceptual line of tableware that deftly mixes social awareness with a humorous nudge in the right direction (it’s, um, much funnier than it sounds It truly suits the way we approach solutions—practical, irreverent & engaging,” the website writes.
But many people didn’t see anything “humorous” about it. It didn’t take long for Ward’s post showing the plates to go viral. As of July 23rd, it has been retweeted more than 5,400 times and has more than 46,200 likes. Many agreed that the plates promoted unhealthy habits—and some argued that they could even exacerbate eating disorders.
All these people trying to defend the shitty design… lol imagine thinking a circle labelled “skinny jeans” big enough to hold like two chicken nuggets is demonstrating “healthy portion control”…. The only thing it’s teaching is body shaming, and nothing to do with health.— cheese steak (@totodialed) July 22, 2019
These labeled plates are AWFUL and I am glad Macy’s has agreed to remove them. This fuels eating disorders.— Susan Feldkamp (@SusanFeldkamp) July 22, 2019
This is a toxic message, promoting even greater women beauty standards and dangerous health habits. These expectations can actually kill someone, and I know someone it has. @Macys, remove this from all of your stores and denounce the manufacturer.— Anna L Puchkoff (@AnnaPuchkoff) July 21, 2019
Fuck these plates. Fuck these plates to hell @Macys https://t.co/BNOmGszf03— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) July 22, 2019
I’m gonna be generous and assume the person who designed this doesn’t know they’re monetising textbook disordered eating behaviour. But there’s no excuse for putting a cutesy spin on bodyshaming. I have no time for this retrograde Cathy fuckery.— Great Bourgeois Monster (@Jomegsallan) July 22, 2019
Somebody imagined these, pitched them, and then they went through multiple levels of approval before being manufactured and ending up in that store. All of that is to say, what the fuck?— Steve Lemke (@srlemke) July 21, 2019
Macy’s, it seems, was paying attention to the backlash. The department store replied to Ward’s tweet promising to remove the plates from its stores. The company also agreed that it had “missed the mark” in selling the plates.
Hi, Alie — we appreciate you sharing this with us and agree that we missed the mark on this product. It will be removed from all STORY at Macy’s locations.— Macy’s (@Macys) July 22, 2019
Ward thanked the store for taking her complaint seriously and requested that the plates also be kept out of Ross and TJ Maxx.
I appreciate that; thanks for hearing and taking the feedback. Sidenote: if the surplus stock winds up in TJ Maxxs and Marshalls and Ross stores across America I’m gunna lose it again.— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 22, 2019
While we’re glad that Ward’s tweet led to concrete results, it’s still frustrating to think that these products were being sold in the first place. The plates themselves aren’t an isolated problem. They’re part of the culture that teaches women that being thin is virtuous and being fat is a moral failing. We’re constantly surrounded by the pressure to lose weight, and it has real, negative consequences like eating disorders and body image issues. We hope that Macy’s and other retailers will seriously reconsider selling other fat-shaming products.
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