Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words from fat-shaming internet trolls with minimal context will probably do a fair amount of damage to formative minds.
On Saturday, plus-size model Paloma Elsesser spoke out about her minimal involvement in a cyberbullying sweatshirt campaign created to raise awareness of internet trolls.
Her apology to her community followed backlash to the well-intentioned sweatshirt collection by designer Lara Pia Arrobio’s brand LPA, which featured harassing quotes that have been lodged at celebrities such as Elsesser and Lena Dunham. However, it all went awry when the collection was revealed on the online shop Revolve last week, and the comments, with little context, seemed to promote body-shaming instead of condemn it—especially since the clothing was worn by thin, conventionally attractive women.
Making a statement like this is so problematic, do you really think you will be having a positive impact on young minds who have the potential to see a young woman walking down the street in one of these ( who is a size 12 or under as that’s what these go up too ) madness. pic.twitter.com/sH8DqFxVoP
— Felicity (@FelicityHayward) September 12, 2018
After the product’s launch last week, many critics across social media slammed the line, particularly the sweatshirt with the quote attributed to Elsesser’s troll, “Being fat is not beautiful it’s an excuse.” The quote, in a large font covering the front, is only attributed “as said to” Elsesser in small font below the quote, appears on a thin model, and was only sold on clothing up to a size XL.
Several people, including other plus size models such as Tess Holiday, criticized the sweatshirt for its problematic nature of appearing to slam fat people while also elevating thinness per the sweatshirt’s model. Following the campaign’s launch, which Revolve later stated was erroneous on their part, Dunham distanced herself from the project, as did LPA.
On Instagram, Elsesser wrote that she was angry and upset about being “even remotely” attached to the project, and for having submitted the insult to be used in a project that she knew very little about. She stated that she wasn’t involved in any part of the product aside from submitting a screenshot of the comment she received and that she wanted to help showcase “the dark and insidious nature of the words that are hurled at fat people online.”
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“I am disgusted with the ignorance of what transpired, and I denounce any involvement with Revolve (which I had no idea the sweatshirt would be sold through) and LPA, as well as their shocking lack of thoughtfulness about the nuanced pain that this rhetoric addresses,” Elsesser wrote. “I, too, am a young woman trying to navigate my identity, how to be my truest and most generous self, trying my best to represent us. My beautiful, diverse community: I love you all so much. I will work as hard as ever to protect you the best way I know possible. I will also avoid at all costs becoming ensnared in ill-conceived ideas which do not serve us.”
Read Elsesser’s entire post below:
View this post on Instagram
I’ve never been embroiled in anything like this. I’ve never felt this scared. The spectrum of emotions I have felt in the last few days are dismal. I am so angry and upset about having, even remotely, been attached to something so problematic and distant from my true ethos and practice. We must always take responsibility for our part, but as women we also have to call out when we’ve been taken advantage of: in no way was I involved in the marketing, the layout of the sweatshirt, or any other part of this project. I sent a screenshot of a comment I received—the kind I constantly receive via Instagram—to highlight the dark and insidious nature of the words that are hurled at fat people online and benefit a charity that helps low income girls and women get access to arts education. In hindsight, it was hasty and unwise of me to participate in the first place. I am disgusted with the ignorance of what transpired, and I denounce any involvement with Revolve (which I had no idea the sweatshirt would be sold through) and LPA, as well as their shocking lack of thoughtfulness about the nuanced pain that this rhetoric addresses. I, too, am a young woman trying to navigate my identity, how to be my truest and most generous self, trying my best to represent us. My beautiful, diverse community: I love you all so much. I will work as hard as ever to protect you the best way I know possible. I will also avoid at all costs becoming ensnared in ill-conceived ideas which do not serve us. Thank you for your continuous support. ~ this photo was made by @annapogossova & @jerriejoy
H/T the Cut