Mixed messages

Lena Dunham slams fashion brand over slogan printed on sweatshirt worn by slender model

(Twitter)

Images of a thin light-skinned model wearing a sweatshirt bearing a fat-shaming slogan posted to online retailer Revolve have ignited outrage — and an explanation from Girls creator Lena Dunham, who said she was involved in the design process of the controversial clothing item. The sweatshirt, she explained, had been part of a line of pullovers featuring quotations of hateful and body-shaming remarks directed at celebrities such as Dunham (“Horrible Result of Modern Feminism”), Cara Delevingne (“Too boney to be boned”), and curvy model Paloma Elsesser (“Being Fat Is Not Beautiful, It’s An Excuse”). The offending sweatshirts were posted to Revolve’s website featured a shirt with the last of the above slogans being worn by a skinny, white model. The image prompted shock and derision from users online — including curvy model Tess Holliday.

“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,” wrote Dunham in a statement posted to Instagram. “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,” she continued. “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.”

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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

In order to make up for the failed campaign, Dunham added, she was “making a donation to the charity of every woman’s choice who was wronged with me.” In a statement given to PEOPLE magazine, Revolve apologized to the collaborators involved in the project for both prematurely releasing the images without context and for “[featuring] one of the pieces on a model whose size was not reflective of the piece’s commentary on body positivity.” Revolve also pledged that it would donate $20,000 to “Girls Write Now,” the charity to which the proceeds of the sweatshirts were originally intended to go.

Read the full story at PEOPLE magazine.

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