Retail department store giant Macy’s is under fire this week after a tweet featuring plates with controversial messages regarding portion control went viral.
“How can I get these plates from @Macys banned in all 50 states,” tweeted Alie Ward, a science correspondent for the CBS series “Innovation Nation.”
— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 21, 2019
The photo featured a dinner plate marked with varying sized circles, with the smallest labeled “skinny jeans,” the next size up labeled “favorite jeans,” and the largest one labeled “mom jeans.” A smaller plate intended for appetizers showed two circles with similar accompanying messages reading “foodie” and “food coma.”
The plates, designed by a company called Pourtions, were being sold in Macy’s concept shop, ‘Story’, at their flagship location in Manhattan’s Herald Square.
According to the brand’s website, their collections provide a “humorous + healthy way to watch what you eat + drink.”
“Research shows that people unintentionally consume more calories when faced with larger portions,” their homepage reads. “So, to keep you from overindulging, our tableware collection provides helpful —and hilarious—visual cues; simple guide rails. It’ll spice up your dinner table, and your conversation. We’ll save a seat at the table for you.”
Understandably so, their controversial dinnerware messages have created an uproar across Twitter and social media from many who feel they are fueling body negativity and eating disorders.
Ward said the poorly thought-out plate concepts made her think of the “moms to young girls to guys who dismiss centuries of crushing beauty standards and laugh them off.”
“I wasn’t being literal at all in terms of a legal ‘ban,’” Ward told HuffPost, clarifying her tweet. “I just wanted to show the world how insidious beauty culture, and in this case one that shames women, can be. But I wanted Macy’s to know that what they carry and display matters, it can hurt people, and they’re accountable for it.”
With eating disorders being primarily disorders of “shame” according to experts in the field, Ward’s concern is spot on.
Additionally, With ED’s being one of the most understood mental health conditions and by far the most deadly (anorexia carries a 6-fold increased risk of death), the body-positivity advocate takes matters concerning unhealthy diet culture very seriously.
She also says she has “friends who have been hospitalized for eating disorders, who cap off a good dinner by purging, know strong intelligent women who’ve starved themselves to be a certain size, and who obsess about calories so they’re not rejected or ridiculed.”
Many fired up commenters shared Ward’s sentiments.
Oh, for heavens sake @Macys. Promote eating disorders much?? This is unacceptable.
— Pixel’sMom (@LizAdams5) July 21, 2019
“This is a toxic message, promoting even greater women beauty standards and dangerous health habits,” read one tweet. “These expectations can actually kill someone, and I know someone it has. @Macys, remove this from all of your stores and denounce the manufacturer.”
“When you spend your entire existence being told how to look so you can catch a man/have value, and shamed for the most natural things like gaining weight from things like pregnancy, or eating whatever you freaking like… these things aren’t ‘funny’ they’re just exhausting,” another added.
When you spend your entire existence being told how to look so you can catch a man/have value, and shamed for the most natural things like gaining weight from things like pregnancy, or eating whatever you freaking like… these things aren’t “funny” they’re just exhausting.
— Rose DF (@_Astro_Nerd_) July 22, 2019
Macy’s has since responded to the public outcry by removing the Pourtion plates from their shelves.
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
“Hi, Alie — we appreciate you sharing this with us and agree that we missed the mark on this product,” the retailer tweeted in reply to Ward. “It will be removed from all STORY at Macy’s locations.”
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
Pourtions’ president Mary Cassidy responded to the backlash in saying the plates were “meant to be a lighthearted take on the important issue of portion control.” She said she feels badly if they were “hurtful to anyone.”
“Pourtions is intended to support healthy eating and drinking,” Cassidy continued, in defense of the company’s mission. “Everyone who has appreciated Pourtions knows that it can be tough sometimes to be as mindful and moderate in our eating and drinking as we’d like, but that a gentle reminder can make a difference. That was all we ever meant to encourage. We ourselves use our glasses and plates every day to help us take our own advice. We know this is serious business. We also believe a touch of humor can, for some, be just the right touch.”
If you or somebody you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.