The endless barrage of weight-loss propaganda that the world spews at women is unnecessary, offensive, and downright dangerous. That's a strong word to use, but when it comes to shaming women into eating tiny portions so that they don't fit some stereotypical trope, it's a problem. Because of that, Macy's pulled plates featuring "mom jeans" vs. "skinny jeans" portion control lines, and honestly, it is for the best.
Earlier this week, writer, podcast host and CBS correspondent Alie Ward posted a photo of the aforementioned plates, tagging Macy's on Twitter, writing that she would like them "banned" in all 50 states. Macy's replied to the post, agreeing with Ward's sentiment, saying: "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." (For those unfamiliar, STORY is Macy's brick-and-mortar initiative in which small businesses are given space to sell their products on a large scale.)
The plates in question have three circles on them, which are designed to show you how much food should be on the plate. The largest circle is labelled "mom jeans," the medium circle is "favorite jeans," and then a very small circle is called "skinny jeans." They are meant to show consumers how much you would need to eat to "fit" into each jean size.
Some social media users had mixed responses to Ward's tweet. Whereas some applauded her for calling out this type of language, others criticized for being hypersensitive, arguing that it's OK to like a plate with portion control, and one person's opinion shouldn't dictate what's right for all.
Ward responded succinctly, noting that her use of the term "banned" was just hyperbolic. "I just think this logic is flawed, harmful & people shouldn’t make money off of making women feel bad — but Macy’s agrees and is pulling them. General side note: speak up for others, contact your reps & vote in local, state & national elections k thanx," she wrote. Later adding: "Experiment: RT if you’ve heard a woman you love and respect say negative things about her body. Then fave if you’ve been upset with yourself for not looking like you think you’re supposed to." The tweet had a few thousand retweets and favorites at the time of publication. (For the record, the original post had over 54K likes, as well.)
The item itself was actually produced by a store called Pourtions, and though it has since been removed from Macy's site, it is still available at the original retailer.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) about 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from various eating disorders, and they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. According to VeryWellMind.com, speaking about diets and weight — particularly in the context of losing weight = looking better — can be very triggering for people who are suffering from an ED.
Beyond that, the general cultural narrative that thinner is better, sexier and more desirable has fueled the ongoing rise of not only disordered eating, but also negative self-worth, esteem and body-image. It's a narrative that needs to change, one redacted product at a time.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder and needs help, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237, text 741741, or chat online with a Helpline volunteer here.