Hate for plates? In case you were Twitter-free and desert island bound you may not have heard about the “science podcaster,” the “inclusionist actrivist” (and their followers) coming unhinged over “body-shaming” tableware featured at Macy’s. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s banning the Big Gulp has got nothing on this tempest in an oversized (tea)cup. Let’s “dish” the dirt on this week’s fashion-adjacent social media meltdown.
Meet Bedford Hills, NY natives Dan & Mary Cassidy, the founders, designers and “multi-hat wearers” behind Pourtions, a humorous brand of tongue-in-cheek slogan-bearing plates and glassware previously found in independent boutiques across the country. Using their backgrounds in advertising, graphic arts and fashion they attempted to address the current trend of “supersizing” with its resultant obesity epidemic in a “fun, unscienc-y” manner. At last year’s Atlanta gift show they got a nice “bite” when a Macy’s STORY (a department where eclectic gift items are featured) buyer expressed interest.
Earlier this month Macy’s Herald Square installed the plates in their “Outdoor Story” window right next to real life almost neighbor (she lives in Bedford Hills) “Martha Stewart’s Grilling.” A happy outcome for a mom-and-pop run business who, according to Mary, had never before received any negative “feed”-back.
That all changed last Sunday when Alie Ward, a correspondent for the CBS series “Innovation Nation” tweeted “How can I get these plates from @Macys banned in all 50 states.” The plate in question had three concentric circles — the smallest labeled “Skinny Jeans,” the middle “Favorite Jeans,” and the largest one “Mom Jeans.” A pasta bowl features the word “Pasta” on the lower part and “Basta” above. Glassware is equally entertaining with “Gin & Tonic”on the lower line, “Catatonic” above; wine glasses have slogans like “Bordeaux” and “Bourdon’t.”
Ward later told Huff Post that she “wasn’t being literal” in terms of a “legal ban” but “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.”
Other tweeters chimed in calling it a “toxic message” encouraging “eating disorders.” “Macy’s just casually promoting eating disorders and body shaming. MOM JEANS FOREVER” per another Twitter poster. Still another aggrieved individual showed a photo where she “fixed them”(the plates) to read “You are Great,” “Still Great!” and “Enjoy Your Meal.”
Finally “The Good Place” actress/body positivity activist Jameela Jamil eloquently tweeted “F… these plates. F… these plates to hell” at which point Macy’s agreed that they “had missed the mark on this product,” promising to remove them amid profuse apologies.
I’m not above wanting to know how the Cassidys were faring when the controversy erupted (among other things). I reached out to Mary who informed me that they were: “On a rare family vacation: we ARE small business owners (wink face emoji). We were going to sleep when we got a couple of ‘would not recommend’ comments on our FB page. We responded very nicely & got hatred in response. We awoke to an email from Huff Post asking for our comment on the social media backlash and our plates being removed from Macy’s.”
I wondered if Pourtions had somehow been targeted. “I have no idea if we were targeted,” wrote Mary. “Probably just a case of the wrong place, wrong time. But based on our recent sales, probably more right place, right time (wink face emoji).” Pourtions was previously sold only to wholesalers on their website — the silver lining to this storm is that the increased exposure (luckily they received almost an equal amount of Twitter comments saying that they loved the plates and would buy them) will now enable them to move up their ecommerce timeline. (See Pourtions.net)
TMZ has a video of Real Housewife of Beverly Hills (and former retailer) Kyle Richards getting in her car after coming out of Fred Segal’s where she claims she saw the plates. “I think it’s obviously a joke” she said. “People are too sensitive.” Harvey calls out the “social media bullies.” However, on People.com she confesses that she “wouldn’t buy them for my daughters,” admitting that she suffered from anorexia during her teens, weighing only 99 lbs and subsisting on a bottle of V8 juice a day.
In other weight related news this week, the store Forever 21 also faced unhappy Twitterati demanding to know why they received free Atkins bars in their plus-size clothing order complaining of feeling “triggered,” “fat-shamed,” and “body-shamed.” Forever 21 assured them that size-ism had nothing to do with it as the retailer issued today’s de rigueur mea culpa: “From time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders.
The freebie items in question were included in all online orders, across all sizes and categories, for a limited time and have since been removed.” Atkins then felt the need to “weigh in” (ha) on how they’re now “focused on a lifestyle nutritional approach where everyone can benefit from overall health and wellbeing.”
If being reminded to watch one’s food and drink intake is more dangerous than the zombie apocalypse, then why is it okay when Beyonce posts a video promoting her extremely restrictive 22-day plant-based diet and exercise regimen – the one she supposedly used to lose the excess twin weight? The singer who used to swear by the wildly unhealthy “Master Cleanse” of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper is now featuring “Join Beyonce and Begin Your Journey to a healthier, more fit you!”
According to PageSix.com: “When fans go to sign up for the diet, the site will allow them to pick which option would work for them, with one being the very diet Beyoncé went on to get her ready — though there’s definitely carbs on the one offered to fans. Because, listen, no one’s really gonna get the secret sauce to Beyonce’s body. She’s fresher than you anyway.”
If dinnerware or a “nutrition” bar is all it takes to cause this kind of body image crisis (not to mention the ire of the social justice warriors), maybe everyone does need something thicker in the way of skin.