No Comment: Zazzle’s Pro-Anorexia Kids’ Tees

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.

Comments

  1. Maggie Hornick says:

    I think the t-shirts are horrible, but I also find the name of the organization “Say No to Size Zero” offensive. Some women are naturally thin, and the phrase “Say No to Size Zero” shames them for their body type. I recall a time in high school, when I was naturally much thinner than I am now, that a girl told me, “No offense, but you look anorexic.” But it IS offensive, and it’s just as bad as fat-shaming.

  2. You obviously don’t understand how zazzle works. Shame on you Ms Mag for accepting this article and even posting it on facebook before complaining to zazzle, I KNOW tyhey would have removed the products in question. Zazzles designs ARE USER MADE, they are NOT made by zazzle – NOT renewing my subscription.

    • surely you’re missing the point? Zazzle is a manufacturer and a representative, and obviously has some overarching bureaucracy that is responsible for supplying and monitoring the goods they offer on the site. They are as responsible for the sale of this shirt as if they came up with the witty little quip themselves.

    • Lacy, if you claim they would remove the products in question, then why haven’t they removed the t-shirts about sexism, fat-shaming and rape jokes? I have complained numerous times along with my friends and nothing has been done about it.

    • Zazzle still has control over whether products are allowed to be sold on their site, just like Etsy and the rape congratulations card. If they would have removed the product, why didn’t they? Do you work there?

  3. A few years back, Zazzle was advertising Nazi t-shirts (http://www.t-shirttalk.com/2008/04/23/advertising-oversight-zazzle-offers-personalized-nazi-products/), now this…

    People should think carefully about where they spend their money.

  4. Iliana Echo says:

    One of my best friends is a recovering anorexic, and if she is to be believed (and I believe her) being that skinny doesn’t feel good at all — she suffers physical pain from being so thin. Just saying…

  5. I have a co-worker who has that saying posted in his cubicle as motivation to maintain a healthy weight (not be skinny). However, I agree that this slogan has no business in a child’s wardrobe. How about “Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels” to encourage them to steer away from junk food?

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