Last week, the online retailer Zazzle–which “empowers” customers to create custom T-shirts, cards and other paraphernalia–ended sales of a kids’ T-shirt and onesie that featured a pro-eating-disorder message in a scribbled font. The decision came only after the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority banned ads of the shirts for encouraging “an unsafe practice that may result in physical, mental or moral harm to children.”
The T-shirt–originally sold as an adult women’s shirt–featured Kate Moss’ now infamous mantra, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” The quote, from a 2009 interview with a fashion website, was called out by eating disorder awareness groups as being exactly the type of rhetoric that can fuel destructive behavior. Naturally, someone decided to slap the slogan on an organic cotton T-shirt–then shrink it and sell it to impressionable young girls.
The shirt is offensive even in adult sizes, but targeting girls is particularly worrisome. An estimated 8 million Americans, and 1.1 million people in the U.K., suffer from eating disorders. And a 2009 study revealed that younger and younger girls are struggling with disordered eating. The trend is upsetting yet unsurprising, given the media’s torrent of hyper-thin women as the beauty ideal.
Cheers to the U.K. Advertising Authority (ASA) for recognizing the dangerous implications of selling Kate Moss’ “thinspiration” to children. ASA intervened after U.K.-based organizations Say No to Size Zero and Beating Eating Disorders (BEAT) called for action against the tasteless tees. But shame on Zazzle for green-lighting such a product in the first place. Zazzle has an entire category labled “offensive,” as well as the “college” section, which is really just a catalog of sexism, fat-shaming and rape jokes in wearable 100 percent cotton.
On their company values site, Zazzle claims to “hold ourselves to the highest standard. We don’t compromise on our ethics for any reason, period. We … demonstrate integrity in everything we do.”
Zazzle may want to revisit those “high standards” and “integrity.”
Photo of Zazzle advertisement from Adweek.